The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Please Turn Out for the Delta Classic for Literacy, Sept. 3--A Role Model for the Region

Posted on August 29, 2011 at 01:00 PM

This is an update encouraging our partners to support the Delta Classic for Literacy, an annual football game designed to help generate funding for literacy programs in the Delta. Arkansas Baptist College and the Arkansas Literacy Councils are key leaders for this year’s Delta Classic, which will be between the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Langston University (OK), at famed War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sept. 3, 2011 at 5 p.m.

This event is a role model for the region, because other colleges, universities or any other institutions that wish to promote literacy should follow the example of adding a relatively small but still very helpful component of fundraising for literacy as part of popular football, basketball or other events that can easily raise a large crowd. The other seven Delta states ought to follow Arkansas’ example in this case.

President Fitzgerald Hill of Arkansas Baptist College is an innovative leader in promoting literacy across the Arkansas Delta, where some areas frequently have one in three or one in four people who are illiterate.

As President Hill forcefully stated when he led a section at the Delta conference in May at the Clinton Library featuring Arkansas Baptist College, (and also the Arkansas Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Memphis Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association) illiteracy obstructs progress in our region in countless ways. Illiteracy impedes efforts to gain or keep jobs, causes additional health problems for people who cannot read the information on their medical prescriptions, as well as many other problems.

Arkansas Literacy Councils, Inc. is a key partner in this effort and we include some information below in this message about the great problem of illiteracy and their constructive activities to address those issues.

To buy tickets and simultaneously promote literacy efforts in the Delta while enjoying a great football game, tickets are on sale through Arkansas Baptist College. Call the College at (501) 370-4000. There are also sponsorships available if any companies or individuals want to make a special contribution to this worthy effort.

For more information, visit, or Linda Gillam Weir, College Relations Director at Arkansas Baptist College can help provide information about tickets and sponsorships, and she is at 501-244-5110.

Part of the proceeds of tickets go for literacy programs, with the following prices: for Reserved, $35; for reserved box seats, $35; reserved handicap, $35; for general admission, $25; for the student section, $20.

Special group rates are 20 tickets for $300 or only $15 each; 50 tickets for $700 or $14 each, and 100 tickets for $1,000, or only $10 each.

In recent years, the Delta Classic for Literacy has raised $55,000 for literacy programs in the Delta, and Dr. Hill has committed to another $10,000 this year.

As President Hill quite rightly said in his presentation at the Clinton Library, you’re not likely to get 50,000 people to attend a chemistry lecture, but you can get 50,000 people to go to an entertaining football game. So by setting aside a small part of the proceeds to promote literacy, President Hill and his partners have come up with an innovative way to raise money for literacy programs.

The problem of literacy is especially serious because it is a problem that is often not easy to see. For example, in the case of those who cannot read the medical prescriptions, they are often too embarrassed to admit they cannot read, so the medical professionals do not know of this problem. We are increasingly coming to the conclusion that illiteracy is one of the most widespread and damaging obstacles for our region, and generally we do not think that the problem of illiteracy gets sufficient attention; but leaders like President Hill, the Arkansas Literacy Councils, the two universities involved in the Delta Classic and many others are working to change that situation.

Thanks to Jennifer Oglesby Holman, Executive Director of Arkansas Literacy Councils, Inc., for providing us with this information. For more information: Promote literacy in the Delta: AR Literacy Councils, 501-907-2490,

Arkansas Literacy Councils (ALC) is the statewide non-profit that provides structure and support to 41 county-level literacy councils that serve adults in 61 Arkansas counties. These councils recruit and train volunteer tutors who help adults improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills. All services are free.

Arkansas is in need of free adult literacy services. According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 14% of Arkansans 18 and over lack basic literacy skills. The 2009 U.S. Census Community Survey found that nearly 19% of Arkansans 25 and over (347,032 people) do not have a high school diploma or GED. Of this number 130,603 have less than a ninth-grade education. Adults with low literacy skills often cannot effectively negotiate the health care system, read food or prescription drug labels, fill out a simple job application, or manage their finances. It is difficult for such persons to both achieve and retain employment, and it is difficult for them to be engaged members of the community.

ALC Provides a Solution. Fortunately, when Arkansans who need it seek or accept help, local literacy councils are there to provide instruction, materials and support. A critical part of the programs’ success is one-on-one instruction in a private setting provided by well-trained volunteer literacy tutors at no charge.

ALC Produces Outcomes! For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011: 12,063 adult students received free educational instruction.

5,448 Arkansas adults learned to read or learned to read better.

4,895 Arkansas adults learned to write or learned to write better.

3,352 Arkansas adults learned to speak English or learned to speak English better.

13,310 personal goals and 14,608 measurable educational advancements were made by students.

5,979 Arkansans served as volunteer tutors, who provided 118,104 hours of instruction, a value of $2,522,701 according to Independent Sector, a national nonprofit that calculates the value of a volunteer hour. Volunteers donated an additional 23,603 hours on pre- and post-lesson preparation, valued at $504,160. Other volunteers (1,433) supported literacy councils by serving as board members or helping with special projects. They donated 83,545 hours, which were valued at $1,784,521. Arkansas Literacy Council volunteers are contributing nearly $5 million in services to Arkansas’s adult education each year!

Unfortunately, 628 adults are currently on literacy council wait lists. There is much more work to be done.

Want to be a tutor? Know someone who needs help?

How can I be a volunteer tutor? We would love to have you! Contact us to locate a literacy council near you. All volunteers, regardless of their educational background or career, must complete tutor training by the local council. Tutors are asked to devote at least one hour a week to their students, and the literacy council will provide ongoing support to tutors as they work with students. If tutoring is not for you, many literacy councils need volunteers for other tasks, such as fundraisers or help with office work. You may also want to consider being a member of your council’s board of directors.

I know someone who needs help. Where do they go? Please contact us. The phone number is free outside of Little Rock at 800-264-7323. You can also email us at

We will make a referral to the literacy council closest to the prospective student. A staff person will call the prospective student for a time to meet.