The provincial government announced last week that North Island College (NIC) will receive a one-time funding boost of $213,149 to support adult literacy programs.
Those programs, however, are actually offered by the Campbell River Literacy Association, so why does NIC get the money from the government?
“What happens is the Ministry of Advanced Education transfers the money through the college system,” says Tony Bellavia, vice president of learning and students for NIC.
It’s a job they are happy to do, Bellavia says, because they recognize the value literacy associations provide to the communities they serve.
“We’re very proud and appreciative to be able to work with the literacy associations,” he says. “They’re the ones who do the work. The funding goes directly to them. They’re the ones who develop the programming, hire for the programs, bring in the learners for the programs and support the programs from the implementation through the development to the delivery stage.”
Part of the reason the money comes through the college system is that these institutions can act as a central hub for literacy associations in their region. NIC serves to deliver funding to literacy associations in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, Port Alberni and Bella Coola, for example.
But the government also relies on the colleges to sort through applications and transfer the funding back to those who get approved, Bellavia says.
“I review the applications on their way to the Ministry of Advanced Education, and then the funds come back through us – and we don’t take any administrative costing on it – and then we send the total amount through to the respective literacy association.”
Without the colleges acting as adjudicators of the applications, Bellavia says, the government would receive far more requests for funding than they could possibly provide.
“The other part is that we provide a level of quality review or quality assurance [for the government],” Bellavia says. “I reviewed the applications as they came in, and I signed off and said, ‘these are great initiatives that are very important work that the various literacy associations are doing, I’m in support of this proposal,’ and then it goes forward to the Ministry of Advanced Education. We play a bit of a role in terms of assuring that the program, in how it’s designed, will meet the needs of the learners and that it’s needed within the respective area.”
So, partly due to Bellavia’s assessment and approval of the work being done there, the Campbell River Literacy Association was one of the benefactors of the recent Ministry of Advanced Education funding, which is good news for people like Marina Robinson, who has been making use of their programming for the past four years and says the programming offered by the association has allowed her to overcome her personal struggles.
“I look back at my life now and say to myself, ‘Wow! You have grown and are continuing to learn,’” Robinson says. “I remind myself every day to never give up. I have empowered myself and overcome hopelessness, anger, confusion and powerlessness.”
For more on the Literacy Association visit, literacyforall.ca or stop by their office at the Robron Centre.