Literacy effort to seek funds for director

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

STEPS will soon apply for a $15,000 grant to hire a part-time director to oversee the revival of Prince Edward County’s literacy efforts.

Consequently, said Amy Beatson, a vice president with STEPS, her organization will oversee and administer the grant, while the recently-created Prince Edward County Literacy Council serves in an advisory position.

“We will be operating under our mission, our values, our bylaws,” she told members of the council at a recent meeting. “This is how we’ve envisioned it right now.”

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Eventually, though, she said, should the council decide to break off and handle the literacy effort under its own terms and bylaws that would be fine.

Lonnie Calhoun III, a council member who has been one of the leading advocates of the revival, said he has no problem with STEPS being the lead organization because the missions of both groups are entwined.

“I don’t think anybody has a problem with that because we understand how we are operating,” he said.

The grant won’t be awarded until May, and, if the effort receives it, a director wouldn’t be hired until sometime after that.

STEPS and the council are looking to restart or strengthen Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, and Family Literacy efforts in the county. Tri-County Life Learners had headed local literacy efforts before becoming largely inactive.

Representatives of STEPS, the Barbara Rose Johns Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library and Longwood University have been among the organizers, and have offered support or assistance — as has the Charlotte County Adult Learning Center.

The effort also received a pledge of support of the Cummins Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose website notes it offers assistance to students in economically-challenged areas across the United States.

Ultimately, Calhoun said he envisions the literacy program spreading across the county to have multiple locations and the support and participation of varied community groups and organizations.

STEPS’ taking the lead clears the way for immediately applying for a part-time director for the effort. The grant is expected to be awarded in May, and advocates decided that a part-time director would mean organization efforts would not be dependent on mercurial, and often time-constrained, volunteers.

“It needs somebody to really be a leader,” Beatson said as the matter was discussed earlier this year. “It’s going to need someone to make sure (volunteers) are trained, to make sure they are using appropriate curriculum, to make sure they are meeting in a safe environment.”

STEPS is a community action agency whose goal and mission is to help people move out of poverty.

The undertaking grew out of a November meeting organized by Calhoun to discuss restarting the county’s basic literacy programming. Calhoun has noted while he doesn’t want to head the effort he a willing worker. Those interested in helping can contact Calhoun at (804) 307-4748 or by email at