“A nation that forgets its past has no future.”
– Winston Churchill
The cause of adult literacy came to the forefront in New Mexico during the administration of Governor Garrey Carruthers. The cause was championed by First Lady Kathy Carruthers as her signature initiative. The first Literacy Forum was held in 1987 to address the concern of illiteracy in New Mexico and the NMCL was formed as an outcome of that meeting among concerned citizens, public servants, and business stakeholders. From that beginning, the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy (NMCL) was established and continues to gain stature statewide and nationally during the succeeding years as the statewide clearinghouse for funding, training, outreach, public relations, communication, and resource development.
The growth and stability of the NMCL is a tribute to First Lady Carruthers; those who formed the first steering Committee, including Senators Bingaman and Udall; and the First Ladies and First Gentleman who followed her path. To this day, the NMCL remains a nonpartisan, nonprofit, private corporation dedicated to its founding mission: to teach basic literacy skills to adults who lack the ability to read above the 6th grade level.
The New Mexico Coalition The NMCL encourages and supports community and library-based adult literacy programs. It is the New Mexico affiliate and coordinator for the national program of ProLiteracy, overseeing certification and coordination of its volunteer tutor trainers. The NMCL also trains and certifies its own trainers in the areas of outreach, governance, program management, and English language instruction for non-readers and non-speakers.
The NMCL’s core projects include operation of a statewide, toll-free referral, recruitment, and information hotline sponsored by New Mexico’s ABC affiliate, KOAT-TV; administration of the State of New Mexico Literacy Program Appropriation; operation of the New Mexico Literacy Resource Center, as designated by the U.S. Department of Education; and operation of a Literacy Training and Technical Assistance Program providing development opportunities to community-based and library literacy projects in a wide range of program areas.
Since its inception in 1987, more than twenty new literacy projects have been established in New Mexico with NMCL assistance and funding. The NMCL also launches special programs and projects and conducts an annual survey of literacy programs to assess program needs and trends. It also maintains a statewide directory of adult education and literacy programs. Currently, the NMCL is serving the following communities.The NMCL depends upon private donations from businesses and individuals as well as government funding to conduct its wide ranging development activities.
A Board of Directors serves to keep the NMCL accountable and in the forefront of literacy program development. The NMCL enjoys the bipartisan support of state’s Governor and Legislature. The NMCL also works with State agencies to implement its wide-ranging adult and family literacy activities. At present, the NMCL is funded by the New Mexico Department of Higher Education through a General Fund appropriation for the statewide adult literacy program.
- Increase public awareness about the cause of adult literacy and eradicate the stigma associated with illiteracy;
- Develop resources for local, community-based adult literacy programs;
- Support legislation to fund adult literacy programs;
- Establish networks to coordinate resources, exchange information, and raise funds;
- Act as a clearing house for adult literacy research, data, statistics, and information;
- Enhance and expand local community based literacy programs through capacity building and new program/project development and implementation;
- Provide consultants, trainers, and technical assistance to local adult literacy programs, such as tutors, personnel, and nonprofit boards; and
- Distribute funds and other essential resources equitably to adult literacy programs throughout the State.