Who We Are
The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana, aka “The Literacy Council,” was founded in 1988 by the Junior League of Southwest Louisiana. The organization was created after a community assessment revealed a need for programs to serve adults with low educational skill levels.
The organization is a community-based, non-profit organization located in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The organization was created to improve the educational skill levels of residents in Southwest Louisiana and to enhance public awareness of literacy-related issues. Through its Lifelong Learning Center, the organization provides educational programs to build individual self-sufficiency, strengthen families, and ultimately enrich lives and our community as a whole. The organization is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The organization’s vision is to build a strong literate community, one individual – and one family – at a time.
Who We Serve
We serve residents living in the following parishes–Calcasieu, Beauregard, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Allen Parishes. The program is open to adults ages 18 and older or youth ages 16 or 17.
The Way in Which We Serve
We provide services that help members of our community. We accomplish this by:
Improving their foundational skills in reading, math, and writing
Preparing participants for the HiSET exam (Enables successful test takers to earn their LA high school diploma)
Providing college-level training and preparing for skilled labor jobs
Providing training that facilitates acquiring jobs that pay family-sustaining wages
Offering English classes (speaking, listening, reading, and writing)
Hosting an annual book festival to promote literacy and a lifelong love of reading
With the support of our community, The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana is changing students' lives and their families' futures.
The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana has been in existence for 35 years. The agency works within the Southwest Louisiana community to provide resources to approximately 1,000 people annually. To do this, they partner with a variety of organizations. These partnerships, along with recommendations from previous program participants, are key to the agency's ability to serve people in need of literacy services. The agency has a reputation for providing quality services and helping program participants meet their personal goals. Currently, the organization serves as the comprehensive adult education provider for Region 5 adult education services administered by the Louisiana Community Technical College System.
Over the years, the organization has earned a reputation as the leading educational agency for adults seeking to learn how to read and gain entry-level skills. Since its inception, The organization has cultivated stellar programming for adults and families, resulting in a high-performing service model.
The agency hosts annual fundraisers to support its mission and has established the South Coast Family Book Festival, a regional book festival that attracts avid and casual book lovers from all corners of the Gulf Coast. The festival plays a major role in showcasing the organization’s commitment to literacy and community engagement. It also plays a necessary role in ensuring younger generations develop a love of reading.
Our Planning Process
The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana utilizes census data to determine the need for services. Using that information, we can determine the estimated number of adults in a census tract area that could benefit from literacy programming. The organization also uses prior-year program data to determine the participation levels at established locations. This information may reveal a need for relocating services, for offering additional classes, or for changing class times.
The organization also engages its board of directors along with its executive team and staff to identify strategic plans for the organization. Both short-term and long-term goals are a central aspect of the plan. Ongoing conversations with employers, the local school district, local municipalities, and community agencies enable the organization to stay abreast of needs. Adjustments in the curriculum and programming deliverables are catered to the identified needs and the introduction of new legislation or rules governing adult education.
The agency strives to work collaboratively, as working in silos does not produce optimal results for clients or the agency.
South Coast Family Book Festival Planning Process
The Southwest Louisiana Book Festival was launched 10 years ago. Due to growing interest and attendance, the location of the festival has been moved to a larger, more visible location. In 2024, the festival will debut at its new location, the Lake Charles Event Center, bearing its new name, South Coast Family Book Festival.
The planning process for the South Coast Family Book Festival is a collaborative effort led by The Literacy Council’s executive team. Partners in the planning process also include officials from the City of Lake Charles, Visit Lake Charles (Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Calcasieu Parish Library, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, and representatives from multiple private industries.
In planning for the festival, committee members evaluate the needs of the community and how best to engage various age groups. An overall assessment of various book festivals provides committee members with information on trends. A heavy emphasis on logistics, programming, author selection, and marketing efforts lays the foundation for the planning committee’s efforts. Efforts at planning the book festival are driven by the desire to expand the festival’s reach and impact.
Future goals for the organization include increasing literacy levels throughout Southwest Louisiana and increasing the organization’s capacity to serve more residents. Accomplishing this goal will require significant fundraising efforts.
South Coast Family Book Festival Future Goals
The mission of the festival is to promote literacy that ultimately sparks a love of
reading amongst the masses. While this will remain the foundational mission of
the festival, the secondary goals for the festival include:
To become the organization’s key fundraiser
To become one of Southwest Louisiana’s premier festivals and economic generators
To establish the festival as a cultural hub and generator of ideas that support community growth and enhancement
How We Utilize Donations
The organization’s vision is to build a strong literate community, one individual – and one family – at a time. Accomplishing this goal requires lofty fundraising efforts.
The census tracts that comprise Lake Charles, LA, and many Southwest Louisiana neighborhoods are low to moderate-income census tracts. As a result, though the needs are great, community support from everyday citizens is a challenge as many are grappling with financial struggles and hardships. Where we may lack in citizen financial support, we make up for that through community volunteerism and the financial support received from local businesses and industry. Their significant support is fueled by the fact that a more literate community equates to a more robust workforce.
Donations are used to support the implementation of programs and activities and are also utilized for operating expenses, salaries, and supply costs. Donations directly impact hundreds of students enrolled in our programs each year.
The fundraising goal for the 2024 South Coast Family Book Festival is $50,000. Donations and sponsorships support marketing efforts, logistics and operations, support of emerging authors, and book distributions to children.
We understand that literacy is a cause that many people in our community believe is important. To that extent, we have devised ways for just about anyone to support the South Coast Family Book Festival, as tier sponsorship and donation levels are structured to accept the smallest monetary amount all the way up to the top-tier sponsorship commitment.
Our ability to raise funds rests firmly on the solid reputation we have built and sustained over the years.
How We Recognize Donors
When organizations and/or individuals choose to support The Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana, we are thankful. The act of giving, especially in challenging times, is not something we take for granted. Giving supports our efforts of building bridges and changing lives through literacy. As a result, we consider donor recognition an integral part of our operational processes.
Donors are recognized via agency correspondence, social media, and on the website. In addition, donors are recognized during events through presentations and signage.
For the South Coast Family Book Festival, the same methods of donor recognition are employed. However, top-tier sponsorships will also receive acknowledgment in the local media. Members of the executive team will also make presentations at board meetings of its local partners (i.e., the City of Lake Charles, Visit Lake Charles, the Calcasieu Parish Library, and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance).