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National Institute for Literacy launches new mentoring program

Loyola press release - July 3, 2007

(New Orleans)ó As a part of its community literacy focus, the National Institute for Literacy is serving as an expert literacy resource to the new ESSENCE CARES Mentoring initiative launched by Susan Taylor and Essence magazine. The program will be launched at the 2007 Empowerment Seminar Series being held in conjunction with the Essence Music Festival.

Sandra L. Baxter, Ed.D., director of the National Institute of Literacy in Washington, DC, will be in New Orleans Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7, visiting local literacy providers with the Loyola University New Orleans Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy to assess the state of literacy in New Orleans post-Katrina. In New Orleans prior to Katrina, 40 percent of the adults were reading below the 6th grade level, and another 30 percent below the 8th grade level. Less than 10 percent of those individuals categorized as in-need of literacy services were actually enrolled in a literacy program. Literacy is an important tool post-Katrina for building a stronger New Orleans.

The Loyola University New Orleans Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy works to alleviate the high poverty levels in New Orleans by focusing on increasing the adult literacy level in the city and providing access to education and economic opportunity. The Boggs Center has worked to develop positive and trusting relationships with educational institutions, government, employers, faith-based, community and social service organizations, and funders to address the immense low literacy in the area. The Center has been instrumental in providing connections to local, national and international research and best practices for addressing adult literacy.

The National Institute for Literacy, created in 1991, serves as a catalyst for improving opportunities for adults, youth, and children to thrive in a progressively literate world. Literacy is an individualís ability to read, write, speak in English, compute, and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family, and in society. The Institute, a federal agency, was established by the National Literacy Act and reauthorized in 1988 by the Workforce Investment Act. Its mission is to develop literacy as a national asset, using knowledge, research, and practice, and working in collaboration with the Secretaries of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, and with other partners.

Sandra L. Baxter, Ed.D., joined the staff of the National Institute for Literacy in 1999. In 2001, the U.S. Secretary of Education designated her Interim Director and in June 2005, she was appointed Director. Under Baxterís guidance, the Institute has undertaken new work on early childhood, adolescent, and adult reading. Baxter earned a doctoral degree in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a masters degree from Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. She completed her undergraduate education at Howard University.

Baxter is available for telephone and in-person interviews beginning Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7 in New Orleans. Baxter is scheduled to speak on Saturday, July 7 at the 2007 Empowerment Seminar Series being held in conjunction with the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

For more information, please contact B. Denise Hawkins at (202) 233-2072 or (571) 228-9926.

Loyola University New Orleans is a Jesuit-Catholic institution with a total student enrollment of 4,724 including 800 law students.