The Pizza Ranch in Yankton is sponsoring a Community Event for the Yankton Area Literacy Council (YALC) on Monday, Aug. 19, from 5-8 p.m. Learn more about what the council does for area children and enjoy some good food. YALC Board Members and volunteers, all with smiles on their faces, will be available throughout the evening to clean up the tables and provide information on their programs.

This event will help to provide materials needed to tutor students throughout the area in reading, spelling, writing, math and English as a Second Language. All tutoring is done free of charge due to the number of volunteers that work to provide that little extra that many students need.

YALC has transitioned all their adult programs to Cornerstones since that organization started offering classes to adults in 2016. That has allowed more focus on the needs of children.

Children from homes where reading is not done on a regular basis have much lower vocabularies and reading levels than those from homes where books and reading are abundant. Those at the lowest reading levels are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years or drop out, according to statistics from ProLiteracy. This affects them throughout their lives. Individuals at the lowest literacy and numeracy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and earn lower wages than the national average. Low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. When children drop out of school, they have a greater tendency to be incarcerated. Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate, per ProLiteracy.

The Read to Me Program, started in 2016, has volunteers read to the children who attend The Banquet at the United Church of Christ on the first and third Tuesdays. That program seeks to improve vocabularies and reading skills. They are encouraged to take books from United Way’s Big Red Bookshelf at UCC. Pathways Shelter for the homeless now has a volunteer, as well.

YALC gives away about 400-500 books to children each year, including at Harvest Halloween Festival and the Kids Art Fest, both sponsored by Yankton Area Arts; in conjunction with readings done by Mrs. Claus each December, and at Head Start around Martin Luther King Day.

Those under 18 not only can have a book read to them, they can also meet the person who writes, illustrates or comes up with the concept for a book. An author is invited to speak at the schools, to tell about his/her process, successes and failures, and to also excite the children about the books written. Jean Patrick from Mitchell appeared at the Yankton School District and Sacred Heart elementary schools. The YALC plans to sponsor an author’s visit once every two years.

United Way is a partner with YALC on the Math is Fun! program. Volunteers work with the Yankton School District to help bring students up to their grade level in math. This is done through one-on-one tutoring for an hour per week. Snacks are provided. Then the hard work gets done, followed by fun and games. Tutors help students realize that math isn’t scary or impossible, if one knows math facts. Several math games are available and other games have been modified to get students to give a math fact before making a play.

Pizza Ranch generously donates a percentage of the money spent on food during the Community Event hours. Also, there will be tip jars on the tables if anyone would like to donate directly to the programs that strengthen our communities.

Again, Modern Woodmen of America Chapter 18126 will match funds from this event. Members are also encouraged to come have some pizza.

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