Dear Community Partners and Friends, I would like to invite you to the upcoming 7th Annual South Texas Literacy Coalition (STLC) Gala for Literacy: Historias de la Vida/Stories of Our life.

As the founding member of the STLC, it is my sincere pleasure to inform you of this grand event that is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Valencia Event Center in McAllen, Texas. This is a regional initiative being hosted by the South Texas Literacy Coalition as it focuses on expanding literacy programs in the South Texas border area for generations to come.

Literacy is extremely important in the development of every child’s life, the basic skill of learning to read is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Unfortunately, literacy statistics in Texas illustrate our struggle to educate our youth and keep them engaged in reading and learning. Over 3.3 million Texans are considered to be functionally illiterate; one in four Texans lack basic reading and writing skills. Overall, student dropouts cost Texas $9.6 billion a year. It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems. To consider our future workforce, six of the ten fastest growing occupations listed by the U.S. Department of Labor employment projections through 2012 require an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. These are alarming numbers and encouraging students to read now can save our future.

We must continue to stay on course and battle the illiteracy crisis that our country, and more so our Hispanic communities along the South Texas border, are facing. I am proud to continue the good fight with STLC. As we advocate for literacy, we recognize the need and foci a sense of urgency to address this issue. The South Texas Literacy Coalition continues to empower families of South Texas through educational programs and book distributions. STLC facilitates and promotes family literacy events to encourage families to read together and help them understand the importance of literacy in the community. We believe that by building literacy skills and investing in our families we will improve the lives of the citizens of South Texas.

We invite you to make an impact in the lives of our South Texas children. Strong communities thrive on education and advancement and that is where friends and potential partners like you can have a significant role in extending these learning opportunities to even more educators and students in our South Texas region. This annual event will help us reach our goal to increase reading, training, rural community outreach and access to books in the homes of South Texas families. It is vital to place printed reading material in the hands of our families and STLC has implemented their books distribution programs in full force throughout rural communities and schools in our South Texas region.

I fully support the South Texas Literacy Coalition and its board for working diligently to develop more partnerships in the region to support our efforts to improve the lives of students, children and families in South Texas through literacy and education. As a leader in this community, your involvement in this literacy initiative is extremely important. If our South Texas region reads together, we will succeed together!