The primary mission of the Community Literacy Center is to create and facilitate literacy opportunities that invite community members—particularly people experiencing confinement or in recovery—to engage in innovative and supportive writing spaces and to value the writing and art that emerges through conversation and circulation.
We share the Community Literacy Journal’s definition of community literacy as “the domain for literacy that exists outside of mainstream educational and work institutions.” We aim to make space for diverse stories and to listen actively as a way to promote community action and social change. We seek to create opportunities for people to write individually and in collaboration with others as they strengthen their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. We invite participants—writers and volunteer facilitators—to contribute to our public and academic efforts to encourage a kinder, more inclusive world by embracing stories that move within and beyond the norms of mainstream culture.
Our goals, then, are twofold:
- to contribute directly to the literacy needs of people in Northern Colorado by sponsoring programming that complements existing literacy education opportunities, and
- to advocate for increased awareness about the needs and contributions of underrecognized people through community literacy research and creative public engagement including publication of the SpeakOut! Journal.
Since 2005, we’ve developed creative and expository writing workshops with both youth and adult writers across the Fort Collins community. These programs have included the Intergenerational Storytelling Project, which serves relative caregivers and their families; and Partnership for Literacy Success, which assists ESL and adult language learners, and now our sole focus — the SpeakOut! Writing Workshop for at-risk youth and incarcerated men and women.
Our community outreach work has also included contributing to the revival of the community-wide Literacy Network of Larimer County. Our work with the Literacy Network has resulted in quarterly meetings for literacy workers across Larimer County as well as a new Network website committed to improving communication across agencies and service providers.