Community Literacy Planning Process

For many years in British Columbia, there has been a focus on literacy in communities. Decoda Literacy Solutions supports the network of organizations and individuals working to build community through literacy work all across British Columbia.

Literacy is everyone’s responsibility, and it is too big a job for education systems, libraries, adult literacy organizations or others working alone. We make the greatest gains by working together and pooling our resources and experience.

The community literacy planning process builds community networks, partnerships and relationships to support community literacy and literacy programming across British Columbia.

Through this process, 102 task groups across 400 communities in BC identify their local literacy strengths and challenges, and then create and implement a literacy action plan. This process is supported by Literacy Outreach Coordinators, who are hired by each task group. Since 2008, each school district in BC has completed annual District Literacy Plans, which detail the progress made each year toward the community’s literacy goals.

The community literacy planning process began in 2004 with the Literacy Now program, which was created with support from 2010 Legacies Now and the Province of British Columbia. In June 2011, Decoda Literacy Solutions took on the work of supporting communities to do literacy work.

The community literacy planning process works. According to a 2010 report by researchers at the University of British Columbia, “…the community literacy process has been very effective in supporting participants to increase collaboration, enhance coordination, form partnerships and work together to reach out and provide rationalized and relevant services across their communities.”

What does the community planning process do?

The community planning process:

  • Helps communities to increase and maintain the literacy skills of individual community members
  • Assists communities to pool and build financial and human resources to address local literacy challenges
  • Identifies a network of community leaders across the province who can support communities in their literacy work
  • Provides a provincial overview of emerging issues, trends and potential solutions.

How does the process work?

The Community Literacy Planning Guide outlines the community planning process. The process involves community members working in collaboration to:

  • Create a vision
  • Develop a community profile
  • Develop a community literacy inventory
  • Set goals
  • Make an action plan
  • Design an evaluation process for the plan
  • Conduct ongoing implementation and evaluation of the plan.

The process begins with community members coming together to talk about literacy. Community literacy task groups form. These groups create plans, hire Literacy Outreach Coordinators, and continue to meet, plan, and implement their vision for literacy in their communities.

Funding for the initial community literacy planning process was available from 2004 through 2010. That funding is at an end, but the process continues in communities across British Columbia. Decoda provides funding for implementation and literacy outreach coordination as it is available.

What are Community Literacy Task Groups?

Literacy is more than just reading and writing. It’s about having the skills essential for living a good life and supporting one’s self and family. A wide range of community support agencies assist individuals to acquire these skills, including:

  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Early Learning Practitioners & Family Resource Programs
  • Health Providers
  • Faith Organizations
  • Police, RCMP, and Justice
  • Employment agencies
  • And others.

The community literacy planning process seeks to bring together representatives from these and other groups to talk about literacy, share knowledge and resources, and work together to achieve a shared vision for the community.

Each community literacy task group addresses the following questions:

  • Where are the literacy gaps and opportunities in our community?
  • What can we contribute to a possible solution?
  • What is the best thing that we can do for people in our community?

Essentially, task groups are about solving problems in the community – figuring out what they are, thinking about how they can be addressed, and talking and working together to identify solutions.

Each year, each task group reviews and updates the literacy plan for the community or neighbourhood that it represents.

Can I get involved with my local task group?

Yes! For more information about the task group in your area, contact Decoda Literacy Solutions at  info@decoda.ca   or 604-681-4199.

What do Literacy Outreach Coordinators do?

To accomplish the work set out in community literacy plans, communities/task groups have identified the need for coordination. In response, Literacy Outreach Coordinators have been hired by task groups to:

  • Develop connections,
  • Mobilize resources,
  • Support community services,
  • Build relationships and
  • Build community resilience.

To identify the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in your community view this list or contact  info@decoda.ca  or 604-681-4199.

What is a District Literacy Plan?

District Literacy Plans are submitted through Boards of Education each year on behalf of the task groups and communities within the geographic boundary of each school district in BC.

A District Literacy Plan is a working document for task groups. The plans also provide a snapshot in time about what is occurring at the community level. They state the broad literacy goals for all age groups and describe how partners are working together to meet those goals.

District Literacy Plans provide a roadmap for communities as they consider past, present, and future work around their literacy goals.

Collectively, District Literacy Plans provide government with a provincial overview of literacy work that has benefitted or resulted from the collaborative work of community literacy task groups.

How do I find more information about the community literacy planning process in my community?

Contact Decoda Literacy Solutions at  info@decoda.ca or 604-681-4199.