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Scrabble Bee promotes literacy in Green Bay

Jared Christman, News Editor
February 6, 2013
Filed under News

Literacy Green Bay will break out the Scrabble tiles to support literacy services in the community with its 11th annual Scrabble Bee Feb. 21.

The organization aims to help adults and families improve basic learning skills. Through the Scrabble Bee, Literacy Green Bay raises money to support local students who receive their services.

The event offers a twist on the classic board game. People compete in teams, working with a Scrabble board and a bag of 100 tiles. The teams must use all the tiles on their board based on a specialized theme.

In past years, the event has drawn huge support from the community. Last year’s event alone raised nearly $35,000.

Tim Kaufman, UW-Green Bay chair of education and the director of the institute for learning partnership, is one of many people who support the Scrabble Bee.

Kaufman was the president of the board of directors of Literacy Green Bay for some time. About 12 years ago, he and his fellow board members oversaw the group that searched for new ideas for an annual fundraiser.

“In the past, Literacy Green Bay used a spelling bee. However, it had gotten to be ineffective for fundraising,” Kaufman said. “We looked for new ideas, we interviewed different literacy councils across the country and found many organizations were doing a Scrabble Bee.”

After Kaufman stepped down from his position with Literacy Green Bay, he made sure to stay involved in the event. He sponsors a team, and he and colleagues have been playing as well for the last few years.

Kaufman said he strongly encourages people to try it out, not just because it’s fun, but because of the support it gives to Literacy Green Bay.

“The Scrabble Bee is a lot of fun to play, but on a much bigger scale, it’s also a major fundraising event for Literacy Green Bay,” Kaufman said. “It’s a widely recognized program here in Green Bay that serves a huge need for second language learners.”

Scrabble Bee Coordinator Lynda Drews said the event, Literacy Green Bay’s single-largest fundraiser, helps the organization educate it students better, especially its adult learners.

“Most learners enter the program at a third-grade reading level,” Drews said. “Most of these students are in their 30s or 40s and want to keep their jobs, get better jobs, read to their children, help their children with their homework and become more active in our community. Many learners comment that they feel better about themselves now that they are receiving help.”

According to Drews, with the help of Literacy Green Bay in 2012, 31 adults got a job or a better job, 14 obtained their GED’s, 16 entered vocational or other post secondary and 22 became U.S. citizens, among other accomplishments.

Drews also said she encourages people to sponsor the Scrabble Bee.

“Sponsoring Literacy Green Bay’s Scrabble Bee event will provide us the funds to help adults and families acquire the reading, writing, math, English language, computer and workforce skills they need to be fully functioning members of our community,” Drews said. “Plus, it’s a fun way to support literacy in Green Bay.”

The cost to sponsor a table or a team of up to eight players at the event is $400 each. Sponsoring a board is $1,000 and sponsoring a game is $2,500.

This year’s Scrabble Bee, emceed by radio personality John Maino, will be Feb. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Swan Club at Legends Brewhouse in De Pere. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

The event will also include a family-style dinner, a silent auction, a live auction, raffles, a cash bar and prizes.

For more information on the Scrabble Bee or Literacy Green Bay, visit literacygreenbay.org.

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