Why we help: Transforming lives through power of literacy

Tonya Johnson

The Youth Literacy program at Literacy Together focuses on youths of color, grades K-5. We are aware of the gap in reading between Black and white students in Asheville City Schools and want to be a part of breaking that cycle.

This summer, we launched a reading initiative with Youth Transformed For Life during its eight-week summer camp. Our goal was to hire interns of color to tutor campers in reading three hours a week. The interns took part in two hours of professional development while learning their new skill, along with being paid. Since launching the pilot program this summer, we have continued to work with YTL and are expanding to work with Christine W. Avery Learning Center. This is just the beginning.

Coral Jeffries, the founder of New City Christian School, encouraged me to continue teaching and training in the literacy arena after the closing of New City Christian School. I am thrilled to be a part of Literacy Together. It has allowed me to hopefully continue to be part of a solution to address a growing concern in our community.

Two parts of the story keep me motivated: One is beautiful and uplifting, and the other is melancholy. Seeing and hearing the growth in reading a child is experiencing is exciting and joyful. They want to share that experience with everyone around them. The melancholy part is that the numbers in the gap have plagued our city for years. I realize we must continue to find ways to reach the children and stay on the mission of transforming lives and communities through the power of literacy.

One of the most significant hurdles Literacy Together continues to face is having enough volunteer tutors. We hold ongoing volunteer tutor orientations and trainings all year.

— Tonya Johnson
Youth Literacy program director
Literacy Together 


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.