Summit County Library given grant for Spanish language adult literacy program
Money will help support a new tutor program through Plazas Comunitarias
A Summit County multicultural services librarian is turning a grant from the National Institute for Mexicans Abroad and the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City into a new educational opportunity for Latinos in the community.
The Summit County Library recently received a $2,300 matching grant for its adult literacy program Plazas Communitarias or Community Plazas. Daisy Hodson, the program’s coordinator, said the classes offer information about how to use computers, phones and social media, and General Education Development (GED). Hodson created the program, held entirely in Spanish, nearly two months ago.
“It has been wonderful to have partners like the Park City School District and the Mexican Consulate to help me on these programs,” Hodson said.
Plazas Communitarias was created by the National Institute for Adult Education for Spanish-speakers older than 15, according to the website of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City. The program offers a free “self-taught educational model” for literacy in primary and secondary education. The consulate provides educational counseling, training, books and instructional materials.
Renato Olmedo Gonzalez, community affairs liaison for the consulate, said the program is aimed at all Spanish speakers, not just those from Mexico.
“When they come to the United States, they don’t often know how to read or write. This is a program in the U.S. supported by us where they can further their studies,” Gonzalez said.
This year, Gonzalez said the consulate was given $89,000 from the U.S. government to help fund adult literacy programs in Utah. He said 12 applications, including the Summit County Library’s, were received and grants of various sizes were awarded to all of the applicants. Each consulate location in the country awards similar grants.
“This money was given to the library because the Latino population over there is high and perhaps there are a lot of individuals that do not have that education,” Gonzalez said. “The reason we wanted to support Park City is because we know an investment like this could get the ball rolling and in the future we may have more graduates. They may get family members and friends to attend and eventually they could reach college.”
Gonzalez said he was inspired by the library’s first-time application, adding “we want to support this program so it will hopefully be an example to other institutions.”
In Summit County, the grant will help launch a new tutoring program covering elementary education. Hodson said the money provides a small stipend for two tutors, in addition to classroom supplies such as notebooks and pencils.
“The Summit County Library is doing amazing things with the Latino community and I couldn’t do it without the director of the library,” Hodson said. “We have been digging into the Latino community and I’m proud to be part of the education task force.”
Dan Compton, Summit County Library director, said the adults participating in the programs are dedicated, adding “we are very luck to reach out to the Latino Community to provide these learning opportunities.”
“Students come faithfully every week for hours to study so they can reach this milestone and improve their lives and break through barriers,” Compton said. “I’m excited about the recent funding Daisy was able to acquire to create even more opportunities. Libraries transform lives.”
Emperatriz Munoz, a GED tutor with the library’s adult literacy program, said the grant will help purchase the “basic necessities” for the program.
“The money is very limited for most of these programs and it is all done by volunteers,” Munoz said. “I do it to help because the main reason they want to be educated is make their children better people. And reading and writing is so important for any person that needs to get an education.”
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Summit County officials declared their potential conflicts of interest, with Councilors Doug Clyde and Chris Robinson offering the most extensive lists on the County Council.