Blue Ridge Literacy
Blue Ridge Literacy, located right below the Roanoke City (Main) Library, aims to support life goals by providing opportunities to strengthen literacy skills to adults in western Virginia. They offer ESOL classes, citizenship classes, and one-on-one tutoring for immigrants and refugee adults, as well as native-speaking adults.
Ahoo Salem, Executive Director, spoke with us about their role in the community -
On average, how many people does BRL help in obtaining citizenship each year?
“We already have three eager learners ready to take their citizenship tests so far this year! In 2021, we had twelve students take the test with a 100% pass rate. It is one of our most exciting programs. We do our best to meet each learner where they are and give them the resources that they need to achieve their goals.”
At the start of the pandemic, how were your classes and services offered?
“I still remember the week of March 12th, 2020 because we had to cancel every class. Thankfully, we were only closed for about two weeks. In those two weeks, our staff and volunteers worked hard to transition into our new norm, the virtual world. We started offering virtual classes that April [of 2020].”
What are Blue Ridge Literacy’s favorite donations from the community?
“Time! Our teachers, assistants, tutors, and coaches are all volunteers. They are such an asset. We always welcome book donations and used laptops/tablets in good condition. We also have a classroom supply Wish List on Walmart.com, an Amazon Smile account, and a Kroger Rewards account.” *Click HERE to support!
What is Blue Ridge Literacy’s favorite thing about the Roanoke community?
“Since the start of the pandemic, citizenship celebrations have been incredibly limited. In order to maintain a safe environment, the courthouse does not allow anyone to attend ceremonies. Last year, Roanoke City put together a ceremony for our newest citizens and high school graduates. It was such a rewarding and well-earned celebration. Our community works hard to make everyone feel welcomed.”
To support Blue Ridge Literacy's mission, Southwest Native has an exclusive piece available for purchase February 1, 2022 - February 28, 2022. For each purchase, $10 will be donated to Blue Ridge Literacy.