Fifty Ways #14 — Organize a Yearly Back-to-School Fair

Many churches across Texas and elsewhere have been busy organizing back-to-school fairs for months in preparation for the upcoming school year. Clearly the need is overwhelming. Many children are dependent on the kindness of others for new uniforms, haircuts, backpacks and more to begin school. And yet I wonder what it would feel like if one of my children were in one of those lines. I’m sure I would be grateful. But I also wonder what it feels like to be in line.


So, I’m curious about what churches and other groups are doing to help empower parents as they do the best they can for their children. Several years ago I observed a group of parents who had organized donated backpacks. When the children came for their backpacks, they received the gift from one of the parents – not one of the project sponsors though I’m sure everyone was aware of the source of the gifts.


Thinking about what it feels like to receive such donations – especially in the context of school supplies or food items at a food pantry – moves us in the direction of cultural competency. Ministries that seek to be culturally competent in how they do what they do move beyond cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity to change their approach in serving. Something to think about…

Blessings to all who share resources – especially with children preparing for school this fall.

black square sig 201


Fifty Ways #29 — Begin an Adult Literacy Program

The judge ordered him to pay child support – and to get a GED. He did not have a high school diploma but secured a job flipping hamburgers. It lasted an hour. He could not read the part about holding the pickles on the screen in front of him. He went to the local literacy center for help. The director found that his reading level was second grade. All she could do for him in the near term was to write a letter to the judge–a letter that described the lengthy and difficult journey to GED for him.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Texas tied with California for the lowest percentage of its population 25 or older who has a high school diploma or a GED credential. According to the Texas Workforce Investment Council, some 4.3 million Texans met the federal requirements of qualifying for adult education in 2011–they were over age 16, not in school, did not have a high school diploma or a GED credential or speak, read or write English well.

GED sample
Could you pass the GED? The new GED – test for General Educational Development. It’s normed to a 40% fail rate for last year’s high school seniors. And it’s online. And you have to be able to “keyboard” 25 words per minute for the writing portion of the test. Good news: they provide an online calculator for the math section. You just plug in the data for those formulas for the math section. Remember those? The new test will not only include interactive math problems but will also require test takers to analyze social studies passages and demonstrate critical thinking through essays with those keyboarding skills.
You can find resources in your community to help adults prepare for the GED — assuming their reading skills are up to par (say ninth grade). The website for the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning has a directory of literacy providers: But many adults are not ready to begin study for the GED. They need help with ABC. Or ABE. You can find resources for adult basic education on this list of providers – just not enough. More are needed.

So consider #29 on the list of 50: Begin an adult literacy program helping adults with reading and GED preparation. That’s what H.D. White did in Amarillo. He’ll be honored in August at the Literacy Texas Conference as the Volunteer of the Year. Way to go H.D! Who’s next? Contact Literacy Connexus about how your church can begin to help adults learn to read and write better.

black square sig 201