The Richardson Public Library was recently awarded accreditation for its Plaza Comunitaria program from ProLiteracy, a nonprofit educational organization that supports local literacy programs through a national network of approximately 130,000 volunteers and 1,000 local, state and regional literacy providers in the U.S.
“We are extremely excited and proud to be the recipient of such an important and impactful recognition,” said Richardson Mayor Bob Townsend. “This special program has helped numerous residents of the community succeed by providing them with critical literacy and computer skills. Plaza Comunitaria clearly reflects the City of Richardson’s commitment to engaging all of our citizens and providing them with meaningful economic and civic participation opportunities.”
Plaza Comunitaria is a volunteer-based adult literacy program developed by the Richardson Public Library in collaboration with the Mexican National Institute of Adult Education (INEA), Richardson Independent School District, and Richardson Adult Literacy Center. Plaza Comunitaria makes English and basic computer classes available to Spanish-speaking adults and students who are completing elementary, intermediate or GED courses, and the program also offers citizenship classes.
Through the program, hundreds of Hispanics in North Texas have begun achieving literacy in their primary language and advanced down the path towards literacy in English. Grants from the Texas Library Association and the Texas Book Festival help fund the program’s training efforts and computer equipment needs.
“We are proud to add Plaza Comunitaria to our growing list of accredited organizations,” said Jane Hugo, vice president of programs and services, ProLiteracy. “The Richardson Public Library has demonstrated that their program meets the highest national standards for volunteer literacy programs and that their services to the community are effective. We applaud the many volunteers, staff and students who have devoted their time and effort to achieve this goal.”
“This is a fine recognition for a community program that seeks to make a significant difference in people's lives and one that elevates their abilities to be skilled workers and participants in society.” said Steve Benson, director of library services, City of Richardson. “The Plaza Comunitaria program is one of the largest such programs in North Texas, and we believe it also stands as a model program for others around the U.S.”
Yolanda Medina, the library supervisor who helped launch and currently provides leadership for the program, was recognized in 2009 by Altrusa International of Richardson with its Outstanding Women of Today Award. Additionally, she received a Bridge Award from the North Texas Future Fund, recognizing individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to improving literacy in North Texas.
ProLiteracy’s purpose is to sponsor educational programs and services whose purpose is to empower adults and their families by assisting them to acquire the literacy practices and skills they need to function more effectively in their daily lives and participate in the transformation of their societies. ProLiteracy was formed in 2002 by a merger between of Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.