Architecture in the Community: Literacy Center

Barbara Clarkson is on a mission to transform lives through literacy education.  The Lacey resident and founder of the REACH (Reading Enhances All Choices for Humans) program, has big plans for a new non-profit literacy education center to be located on the campus of St Andrews United Methodist Church in Lacey.

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“Almost three quarters of our local elementary age schoolchildren are reading below their grade level and many return to a home where English is not spoken”, says Clarkson. 

“National research shows that children reading below their grade level face significant barriers to educational opportunities beyond high school.”  Barbara wants our community to overcome these challenges and the REACH program is a positive step in that direction.

 A tireless community advocate for education, Barbara has helped hundreds of students (many of whom come from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds) reach success with a post-secondary education.  Her impact on the community is well known and she was recently recognized with the dedication of the “Barbara Clarkson Center for Diversity and Inclusion” on the South Puget Sound Community College campus where she served as a Trustee.

Pastor Dirk Wooten of St Andrews United Methodist Church credits Barbara’s leadership with the recent unanimous vote to dedicate the land for this important project. 

Exterior renderings for the proposed project designed by KMB architects.

Exterior renderings for the proposed project designed by KMB architects.

“The United Methodist Church has supported similar literacy programs for years as an advocate for quality education for all, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender.” 

Wooten continues, “St. Andrew’s embraces the REACH program’s vision to achieve and maintain a future where all individuals in our community have the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to flourish in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.”

The existing REACH program has developed strategic partnerships with North Thurston Public Schools, Timberland Regional Library, South Sound Reading Foundation, ESD 113, Saint Martin’s University and others.  REACH has outgrown its existing space.  The proposed project is estimated to cost 2.5 million dollars.  Grant funding and donations are being pursued for capital funds to make the vision a reality.

Olympia-based KMB architects recently donated conceptual design services for the Literacy Center.  KMB architects’ Ruben Nuñez developed the concept. 

“I firmly believe that this proposed Literacy Center project has the potential to change people’s lives. It shows our community’s commitment to quality education opportunity for all - I could not be happier to be involved,” says Nuñez.

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If you’d like to make a donation to the REACH program capital funds campaign visit https://fundly.com/literacy-center-literacy-program.