In response to funding shortages that have affected adult literacy programs statewide, the Santa Barbara Public Library System (SBPLS) will host a fundraiser that will feature, fittingly enough, a tournament of words and wit. The SBPLS’s Scrabble Challenge will benefit its Adult and Family Literacy Programs, which offer free tutoring to adults who want to develop reading skills.
The hosts encourage Scrabble players of every skill level to enter the competition, taking place Friday, September 26, in the Faulkner Gallery of the Central Library. There is a $20 entry fee that benefits the programs.
“The Scrabble Challenge is a great way for those who love words and wordplay to enjoy themselves while helping those who want to build their literacy skills,” said Beverly Schwartzberg, Adult Literacy Coordinator for the SBPLS, in a written statement.
Because the literacy program offers its services for free-including tutoring and books for adult learners and their children-the literacy program relies not only on state sponsorship but also on patronage of local individuals and businesses, as well as the service of its all-volunteer staff of tutors. According to Schwartzberg, this is likely to be the most difficult financial year in the program’s history.
And there’s no guarantee that help will come from the California state government any time soon. Recent state budget talks have included discussions of completely eliminating government funding for public literacy programs. As of yet, the 20-year-old Adult and Family Literacy Program doesn’t know how much state funding, if any, it will receive this year.
Approximately 21 percent of Santa Barbara adults are below the basic literacy level, meaning they are unable to perform tasks-such as voting-that require minimal reading skills. This puts Santa Barbara County at slightly below the national average.