For the past 11 years, Beverly Schwartzberg has been running the adult literacy program out of the downtown library, personally training close to 750 volunteer tutors in that time. Schwartzberg recruits and trains volunteer tutors; currently, there are 180, all of whom have received nine hours of training. The next trick is to pair that tutor with the right student. The objective, she said, is not to have people reading War and Peace, but to achieve the goals they set out for themselves. The key is to create a place they feel safe going to and even safer coming back. “It doesn’t always happen the first time,” Schwartzberg said.
While adult literacy is one of the few genuinely bipartisan issues that warring political factions can agree upon—“It’s the cheapest education investment you can make,” she said—the state legislature pulled the plug on Santa Barbara’s adult literacy program during the depths of the Recession. City Hall helped save the program from elimination, and Schwartzberg quietly worked to educate decision makers about the benefits of her program. “When I started out, I was wanted to change someone else’s life,” she said. “But really it’s been my life that’s gotten changed.”
To see the entire list of local heroes and the full article by the Indy Staff, click here.