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Employees Work to Increase Literacy in Albuquerque

Did you know that 16 percent of adults in Bernalillo County lack the education and skills to perform basic reading, writing and math tasks such as calculating a tip at a restaurant or finding information in a news article like this one? Literacy issues affect thousands of New Mexicans and some gracious CNM staff members and volunteers are working to help them.

Aug 30, 2016

June 2012

Did you know that 16 percent of adults in Bernalillo County lack the education and skills to perform basic reading, writing and math tasks such as calculating a tip at a restaurant or finding information in a news article like this one? Literacy issues affect thousands of New Mexicans and some gracious CNM staff members and volunteers are working to help them.

The Adult Literacy Movement of Albuquerque (ALMA) is a grant-funded program operating at CNM and coordinated by Melanie Viramontes, learning center supervisor in the Assistance Centers for Education (ACE). When Viramontes began coordinating the program a few years ago, the program once called Literacy Volunteers at CNM was in a transition period. She aided workers in the program in applying for a grant from the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy. The program was awarded the grant in September and is thriving once more.

"The literacy volunteer program is open to the community. (Community members) get matched with a volunteer tutor, not our CNM paid tutors," Viramontes said. "They meet 8 hours a month and if a tutor wants to do more they can."

Right now the program has about 65 tutors, she said, and each one is trained through the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy. Tutors meet with students on a CNM campus about two hours a week and help students with everything from reading and writing to basic math. The program also helps a lot of students who are learning English as a second language.

Viramontes said that some students only visit the program for a short while to accomplish goals such as passing the GED exam. Other students have been with the program for a number of years and are working to accomplish bigger goals.

"They love their tutors," Viramontes said. "They want to give a lot of credit to the tutors and the tutors want to give a lot of credit to the students. They both kind of need each other to accomplish the things that the students are doing."

Along with some community representatives, four CNM staff members are on the ALMA Board of Directors, as well as a student representative:

Lis Turkheimer – Chair
CNM Director, Assistance Centers for Education/Academic Affairs

Ben Wakashige
CNM Library Director

Pam Etre-Perez,
CNM Dean, School of Adult & General Education

Moises Peña, Student Representative

Melanie Viramontes, Literacy Advocate Coordinator
CNM Learning Center Supervisor

Elizabeth Pearsall, a volunteer representative and vice chair on the ALMA Board, was recently awarded the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy's Board Member of the Year Award, which she will receive at their annual meeting and conference on June 15.

There are a few different adult literacy programs in Albuquerque, that work together to help promote literacy in the area. ALMA is part of the Albuquerque Cooperative for Adult Literacy along with Catholic Charities, Reading Works and ReadWest in Rio Rancho. They work together to plan events and training.

"I really enjoy when the students feel like they're progressing and they get excited about the accomplishments they've made," Viramontes said.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, contact Ian Vetter by email or at (505) 224-4312, or contact Melanie Viramontes by email or at (505) 224-3966.