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Literacy Advance of Houston sees Golden Opportunity in 50th Anniversary Year

Houston, Texas (November 5, 2013) – At a recent private event for nearly 300 people at the Junior League of Houston, Literacy Advance of Houston’s Executive Director Melanie Fisk announced plans for the 50th anniversary year of the non-profit organization.

“We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the tremendous achievements of our past as we continue to expand our stellar programs to meet Houston’s future literacy needs head-on,” said Fisk.

Founded in 1964, Literacy Advance has provided adults in Houston with basic literacy classes led by trained volunteer tutors for 50 years. In addition to basic literacy, Literacy Advance provides English as a Second Language (ESL), family literacy services, transition services to help students become economically self-sufficient, and workforce development classes to help prepare Houston’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Through literacy, people can permanently change the trajectory of their lives. At Literacy Advance, we help parents talk with their child’s teacher. We help adults learn to read so they can get a GED or enroll in college. And we help workers learn new skills to increase their chances of career growth,” said Fisk.

Thousands upon thousands of adults have benefited over the last 50 years. Last year, more than 3,000 people were served through Literacy Advance’s programs. However, Houston’s literacy needs continue to grow at a pace that service providers cannot match. Today, 1 in 5 adults living in the greater Houston area are functionally illiterate.

"We must join together as a community to solve this complex and pervasive problem – for the social and economic prosperity of our citizens and our city,” said Julie Baker, President of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. “To accomplish this will, in large part, require that we unite in service and increase the capacity of local organizations, such as Literacy Advance, who are providing high-quality literacy and workforce readiness programs. Everyone deserves the opportunity to become literate and to reach his or her God-given potential in life."
While almost 1 million adults in and around Houston need literacy services, only 4% of those in need currently receive help. During the 50th anniversary year for Literacy Advance, the organization plans to lay the foundation to increase services to meet the growing needs of low-literate adults in Houston. A series of events will take place in 2014 that support the organization’s future plans:

Reader Cup 2014:

A Special Event Honoring Larry and Judy Dierker, Thursday, February 20, 2014 at TopGolf Houston. Literacy Advance was founded in 1964, the same year that legendary Hall of Famer Larry Dierker began his professional baseball career. Larry re-wrote the Houston Astros record books many times during his career. Similarly, Larry and his wife Judy have helped other people re-write their stories through their tireless service and volunteer leadership for Literacy Advance.

The Reader Cup will be an evening event at TopGolf for guests and players featuring 6-person team golf, buffet-style dinner and cocktails, recognition of the Dierkers, auction packages, team prizes, celebrities, and more. The event is sponsored by White Oak Gives Back, among others, and Yahoo! SportsRadio 1560’s Sean Pendergast will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Scrabble and the City

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. This unique, popular event features a zany Scrabble tournament, complete with a top-secret game changer announced that night. Between Scrabble rounds, guests enjoy dinner bites and drinks, shop the raffle packages or hit the dance floor. Prizes are awarded for the best Scrabble team name and the best team costumes. The last Scrabble and the City event sold out with 46 teams and many cheering spectators.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration will take place in November 2014, date to be determined, to celebrate the organization’s history as well as its plans for the future. Sponsors and major partners investing in the organization’s strategic growth include: BMC Software; The Bank of America Charitable Foundation; Cameron; Comcast; Wayne Duddlesten Foundation; The Hamill Foundation; Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation; Houston Endowment; Image Resources Group; The Lee Group; John P. McGovern Foundation; Pinnacle Financial Strategies; The Powell Foundation; The Simmons Foundation; Taxis Fiesta-Yellow Cab; United Way of Greater Houston/United Way THRIVE; The Vale-Asche Foundation; and Whataburger, among others.

With 50 years of history, Literacy Advance is also seeking to hear from people whose lives have been touched through their interaction with the organization. Those who have a story to share are encouraged to contact Nick Stinson at

For more information about the 50th anniversary year events and activities, contact Josh Beasley, Development Director, at or 713.266.8777.

For current literacy facts, including the sources for the statistics mentioned above, click here.


About Literacy Advance of Houston  

Founded in 1964, Literacy Advance of Houston is an education and workforce development organization providing free literacy and work readiness classes to adults. All classes are delivered by trained volunteer tutors at 30 locations across the greater Houston area. By focusing on workforce and life skills development, students are provided the tools to transform their lives, families and communities through the doorway of literacy.

Literacy Advance is a United Way of Greater Houston agency, an accredited affiliate of the Houston Center for Literacy and ProLiteracy, and a member of Literacy Texas and the Better Business Bureau. For more, explore this site, “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Download this press release as a PDF (210KB).

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