by Bevan Stockdell, Board Chair

The past year has been a year of self-discovery for the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition. The board of directors spent the past year revisiting the 2006 study that first identified the need for a literacy coalition to lead a collaborative effort to combat low literacy levels in Oklahoma City and asking our organizational members how we can better serve them.

We have been an all-volunteer organization since 2010. While we are proud of what a small group of dedicated volunteers has been able to accomplish, we know much more needs to be done to bring the connection between illiteracy and poverty to the forefront and get the entire community on board to significantly increase literacy levels. One-hundred percent of organizational members surveyed endorsed a fundraising campaign to hire an executive director. Our members identified four ways an executive director would support the literacy community:

  1. Taking a more active role as the coalition coordinator: facilitating communication, sharing best practices, and developing partnerships;
  2. Facilitating the measurement of literacy levels in central Oklahoma and gathering, compiling and analyzing the data for all agencies to use;
  3. Monitoring and researching grant opportunities, establishing partnerships for major grant requests, helping literacy providers with grant requests and managing grant requirements; and
  4. Coordinating an area-wide public awareness campaign for literacy to encourage adults and children to seek services and to highlight the issue.

We listened to our members and, based on their feedback, developed a three-year strategic plan. During what has been an incredibly challenging year for resource development, we received funding from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and Kirkpatrick Foundation that allowed us to hire a part-time executive director.

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce Julie Serven will begin serving as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition on February 1st. Julie brings a variety of experience and an abundance of passion to the position. She has a M.Ed. in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum, with a focus in Literacy, from the University of Missouri and is a professional writer, editor, and publisher. Julie has helped several nonprofits tell their stories in clear, consistent, and compelling ways. Julie is not new to the literacy community. She received tutor training from both Payne Education Center and Community Literacy Centers and has volunteered with Whiz Kids, Ralph Ellison Library, Jubilee Partners, and Pioneer Library System. Julie started the Reading Buddies program at Gatewood Elementary, where she continues to tutor, and manages social media for a community-wide early literacy initiative led by Smart Start Central Oklahoma.

Please give Julie a warm welcome! She will office at United Way of Central Oklahoma and can be reached at julie@okcliteracycoalition.org and (405) 830-2790.

The next year promises to bring change but also challenges. In 2017, we will get deeper into our strategic plan and work with an evaluation and outcomes measurement consultant to ensure we are providing maximum value to our membership and the community at-large. We are confident with Julie at the helm!

Best wishes in 2017!