On January 1, 2014, the Central Wisconsin Literacy Council (CWLC) came to be, the result of combining two literacy organizations. The Literacy Council of Wood County (LCWC) had been an active community resource since 1991. The Marathon County Literacy Council began in 1997. More than 1,500 adult students benefited from services provided by the agencies over the years. Many people learned to read English, earned high school diplomas, attended college, and found jobs with help from volunteer Tutors.

We provide adult students 18 and older from the greater Marathon County and Wood County areas (including Adams, Clark, and Lincoln counties) the opportunity to improve their English reading, speaking, writing, computer, and math skills.

Brief History

1990 – Steering Committee formed by Marshfield Area United Way and United Way of South Wood County in response to an initiative from United Way of America to look into the need for a literacy program in Wood County.  Steering Committee decides a need exists. The Literacy Council of Wood County (LCWC) is incorporated and both United Ways allocate funds for the new agency.

1991 – The LCWC’s first Director (Jan Gordon) begins work in January and  immediately markets the new agency.  With help from volunteers, tutors are trained and adult students are matched with them.  Initially, tutoring was only going to be for reading and writing. However, an immediate request to add English Language Learning for the increasing female Hmong population in Wisconsin Rapids dictated adding additional programing, so the LCWC’s mission was amended.

1992 – The LCWC moves out of its temporary office in the Marshfield Library into the Marshfield Job Center.  The Private Industry Council purchased computers and the PLATO program, which learners used for basic skills improvement or to work on their High School Equivalency Diploma. The LCWC was in charge of enrolling learners and supervising them on the computers.

1993 – The LCWC continued offering computer assisted programming along with tutoring.  In cooperation with United Way of South Wood County, the LCWC received one of 10 national two-year grants from the United Parcel Service/United Way of America Literacy Challenge.  Jan Gordon took over training tutors.

1994 – Continued the UPS/UWA grant.  Wood County Literacy Coalition formed to bring all the agencies together that work with adults and families that are struggling because of literacy issues. Because of this cooperation,  board president Michael Irwin and director Jan Gordon presented a program at the NETWORK conference in Baltimore about the collaboration between the Literacy Council, Mid-State Technical College and the Private Industry Council, and other coalition agencies.

1995 – Wisconsin welfare program changes were making changes for the LCWC.  Welfare recipients were not being referred for instruction, but being told their only option was to get a job. Thus, students who came to LCWC, came on their own and usually showed a stronger commitment than many previous students.

1996 – Continued welfare changes and LCWC continued to meet with case managers from Social Services and other agencies to determine how best to meet the needs of learners and clients in the changing environment.

1997 – With the help of a Marshfield Area United Way grant, LCWC began using a pure phonics approach developed at UW-Oshkosh to help students who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities.

1998–1999 – Programs continued with few changes

2000–2001 – LCWC received two Targeted Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grants from the state of Wisconsin.  One grant expanded existing programs (Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning) and the other grant was used to begin a workplace literacy program.  The workplace program provided Spanish instruction to company supervisors and English instruction for their employees.

2002–2003 – LCWC received a third TANF grant to continue regular programming.  LCWC began small group instruction in English Language Learning.

2004-2007 – LCWC changed to Wilson Language System materials to use with students with learning disabilities.

2005 – Jan Gordon participated in a Train-the-Trainer program for Bridges to Practice (working with adults with learning disabilities) from the National Institute for Literacy. Wisconsin participants agreed to train instructors in the Bridges program, holding several trainings throughout the state. In addition, LCWC received a Ministry Health Care Fund grant from St. Joseph’s Hospital to work with area Hispanic adults.

2008 – Jan Gordon announces she plans to retire and relocate the following year.

2009 – Jan Gordon retires after 19 years. LCWC employs UW-Wood Instructor Troy Schoutz as an interim part-time Director.

2010 – Troy leaves the LCWC and the board employs Rev. Trey Turner as Director.

2011 – Dr. Turner leaves LCWC, which hires Stephen Carlton as its fourth Director. LCWC discontinues using BEST Plus assessments and uses only TABE materials. Resources are inventoried and centralized in the Wisconsin Rapids Resource Center. With a grant from the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, LCWC purchases ELL assessment materials. LCWC begins an ELL class at the Marshfield YMCA. The Community Foundation of South Wood County provides LCWC a grant to produce and distribute new brochures. Marshfield Clinic provides LCWC laptop computers; the Community Foundation of South Wood County awards another grant to purchase up-to-date software and peripheral equipment to utilize the laptops in a mobile lab. LCWC partners with the Senior Citizen Employment & Training program, offering seniors Computer literacy.

2012 – LCWC relocates into St. John’s Episcopalian Church in Wisconsin Rapids, doubles tutor/learner matches, serves over 150 adults, and holds its first Scrabble Tournament.

2013 – LCWC receives renewed financial support from the United Way of Inner Wisconsin (Wisconsin Rapids area).

2014 – we began a new chapter as the Central Wisconsin Literacy Council (CWLC), serving all of Marathon and Wood counties. We employ a half-time Program Assistant, and then an AmeriCorps member to work primarily with our Tutors. We change our logo, update our by-laws, recruit new Board members, and focus our efforts helping people earn their GED in order to get jobs. CWLC gets included with the technical college system in a pilot program using DynEd. We re-open a Marshfield office. We replace our fleet of old Windows XP laptops with a handful of Windows 8 units, and a collaborative grant from four local foundations. Security Health Plan Foundation awards a large health literacy grant for a meal site program.

2015 – In January, we received a grant to purchase DynEd licenses. We begin use of our Health Literacy BINGO materials at ten meal sites. In March, we receive funding approval from the Marshfield Area United Way for the first time since 2011.

August, 2016 – Due to health reasons, Stephen Carlton steps down as Executive Director. Before he leaves he helps to hire Will Hascall as the new Executive Director. Will starts out by rebuilding CWLC from the ground up with the goal of continuing the long history of the organization.