Following repeated requests for basic reading materials, Kingston Public Library staff identified the need for a program in Kingston that focused on adult literacy. This need was confirmed by 1971 Census data that indicated almost 27 per cent of adults in Kingston had less than a Grade 9 education.
In 1977, a research study called “Reach Non-Readers” was conducted, and the results indicated there was a need for a part-time literacy program. Later that year, the Kingston Literacy Council and Adult Reading Program were established.
With help from St. Lawrence College, the Frontenac County Board of Education and the Kingston Public Library, the Adult Reading Program began to provide one-to-one training at the 0 to Grade 4 level.
Staff consisted of one part-time teacher/coordinator and 10 to 15 tutors.
After a series of moves throughout 1978 to 1984, the Adult Reading Program eventually relocated to a building on King Street.
Due to funding shifts, the Kingston Literacy Council became Kingston Literacy. Kingston Literacy was incorporated, becoming an independent organization, and a registered charity. Kingston Literacy began looking for alternative sources of funding.
In 1985, Employment and Immigration Canada funded a pilot project aimed at the unemployed, and Kingston Literacy was awarded a grant to operate a literacy centre on Barrie Street, called the Read-Write Centre.
Funding ran out for the Adult Reading Program on King Street. As a result, it was closed and transferred to the Read-Write Centre on Barrie.
In 1987, The Read-Write Centre found a new home at 88 Wright Crescent, below the Calvin Park Branch Library. The new space was larger than the location on Barrie Street, and much less expensive, since the library waived most of the rental fees.
By 1988, Read-Write Two opened in the Greenridge Plaza. Twenty-six learners and six volunteers signed up in the first six months. An outreach program also started in Amherstview at the Amherstview branch of the library and a neighbourhood school.
In 1989, Family Literacy programming began in response to research that indicated children from language-rich homes had an easier time learning to read and write. The Reading and Parents Program (RAPP) was launched as a pilot project in Kingston’s north end. The program was aimed at making parents aware of the essential early learning that must take place in the home before children are ready to begin learning at school. That year, The Adult Reading Program won the 1989 National Literacy Award.
Throughout these years, Kingston Literacy continued to expand by offering additional programming, adding more locations and hiring new staff. We also developed a number of learning resources that are distributed throughout the country and have been involved in a number of research projects.
In 2006, Kingston Literacy began offering Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes.
By 2008, the reconstruction of the Calvin Park Library on Wright Crescent necessitated a move by Kingston Literacy’s Community Learning Centre Kingston (CLCK) to a new location at 859 Princess Street. The new space was larger, brighter and at street level, making it comfortable and accessible for the community it serves. The building was also close to the bus terminal at the Kingston Centre. Later in the year, Family Literacy staff moved from 1755 Bath Road to 859 Princess Street and La Salle Secondary School, and the LINC program moved into its new centre at 16 Bath Road.
To better reflect the various programs Kingston Literacy offers, the corporate name was changed to Kingston Literacy & Skills (KL&S for short) with a value proposition of “Build Your Skills, Shape Your Future” in 2009.
Come 2010, Kingston Literacy & Skills developed a new and updated logo to reflect its new name.
Today, KL&S operates two sites in Kingston and area: one in Kingston and one in Napanee.
We now employ 27 people, and serve 1,950 clients annually.
We manage a growing budget of $1.5 million and receive support from 74 volunteers who donate more than 7,000 hours annually.