The Learning Place ~ Nelson BC

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The Learning Place ~ Nelson BC

Nelson, CanadaNelson, Canada
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To bring people and available resources together to create sustainability, space, opportunities for learning and create community bridges.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

For many years Nelson’s Literacy Plan has included the goal of creating a shared, community space for literacy and learning opportunities. The goal comes from a need for accessible space for adult tutors and learners and a desire to bring community members together to create a hub for the development of learning and literacy skills including basic reading and writing, computer skills, language and other essential skills. Our community is a small rural city of approximately 10 000 people.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is to bring people together to create sustainability, space, opportunities for learning and create community bridges between community agencies. The solution is that the sum is greater than the parts. The parts: • An unused space in City Hall provided through an agreement between the City of Nelson and the Province • Computers that were being decommissioned at the College • Learning and Literacy resources brought together by the Public Library and CBAL • Furniture not being used by the Public Library and the City of Nelson • Family, Adult and Language program resources housed in the space so that they are accessible to the wider community • Books Everywhere! community lending library located in the space • Staff resources from multiple groups allocated to creating ‘open times’ • Hours of volunteer tutoring given The Sum: An accessible, shared, community space for learning and literacy. (One partner calls it “a community incubator to build capacity”.)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Here is what happens in a typical, busy week at the Learning Place: Literacy Drop in time • Tutors and learners working together to develop literacy and language skills • Community members accessing resources • Cyber seniors dropping in the get support as they learn basic computer skills • A college math group meeting and creating open time for others to access the space • Community agencies connecting with people looking for services Mother Goose • Families coming together to share rhymes and songs, create supportive networks Cyber Seniors classes • Seniors learning basic computer skills in a supportive environment ESL Class • Conversation focusing on oral language skills and welcoming new community members • Language Class focusing on reading, writing and oral language Library Literacy workshops • Workshops on Library skills such as accessing the Public Library catalogue, databases and audio/e books Learner intake interview • Adult Learners accessing programs and setting goals Meeting with key partners that lead to increased interagency referrals • Community partners coming together to share information, resources and create community bridges The Learning Place makes a difference by sharing the solution across the community. It is like 'stone soup'... a little bit from many creates something to nourish all. The shared space is our soup pot.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The Learning Place model brings community together to work collaboratively. Literacy and Learning are woven throughout the community. Creating a shared space brings us together to offer opportunities for our work to complement each other. It creates places for our work to touch, overlap and enhance. Creating the Learning Place allows us to address the needs in our community without being set apart from one another.

Founding Story

The Learning Place started as a small seed of an idea….create a space to come together around learning and literacy. As people came together, the seed grew. A key component of this idea is that its success lies in the ‘coming together’. The space has been provided by an agreement between the City of Nelson and the Province. Literacy Drop In times are staffed by 4 community groups. Programs that reach out to families, adults, new community members, seniors and others are offered by several agencies. Resources such as furniture, computers, shelving, books and other learning resources have been brought to the Learning Place for all to access. As is true with many seeds, the Learning Place continues to grow in new and unexpected ways. The strength comes in the ‘coming together’. The ‘Aha’ moment was the desire to create a space at a time when we are all able to come together. The excitement is in where our seed will grow.
About You
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL)

Organization Country

, BC, Nelson

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Nelson

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Goals for the Learning Place:
• Create a permanent and visible literacy presence in the community
• Reduce barriers and increase access to literacy programs, resources and initiatives
• Bring community partners together around literacy issues in our community
• Increase opportunities for life-long, life-wide learning for all community members
• Increase awareness around literacy issues and learning opportunities

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Increase in participation in adult learning programs
Increase in referrals across agencies
Increase in partnerships between community agencies
New opportunities (library literacy workshops, literacy drop in time, etc)
Increase in volunteers stepping forward to be involved in many ways
Increase in support for seniors accessing computers and support for computer skill development
Increased awareness of services available

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Above impacts to continue
New uses of the space
Continued growth and sustainability of adult literacy programs
Coming together to look at other issues in our community like youth literacy support, digital knowledge and literacy for parents, teens, other community members and workplace literacy.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Many community groups are experiencing staff shortages and decreased budgets. After one year in our City Hall location, we will now look to expand access to the Learning Place to more community groups. We will look at the use of volunteers in helping to support the space.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

We will have expanded community usage of our space and established continued access to the space through the City of Nelson.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Schedule drop in times that are sustainable through the use of community partner human resources and community volunteers.

Task 2

Set up an online calendar for all community partners to access.

Task 3

Establish an agreement with the City of Nelson for continued access to the space in City Hal

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Our community is moving forward collaboratively to address other issues in our community literacy plan.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

The steering committee is expanded to include more community partners.

Task 2

Policy is established for all community groups offering learning opportunities to access the Learning Place.

Task 3

Funding is accessed to support the cost of maintaining the Learning Place space.

Tell us about your partnerships

The Learning Place started with 4 key parnters: CBAL, Kootenay Career Development Society Nelson Public Library and Selkirk College.
Each partner has been instrumental in providing physical and human resources to provide literacy and learning opportunities.
Other community partners and supporters that have been involved include the City of Nelson and the Province of BC (space) and School District 8. Those interested or already accessing the space include the Family Place, Youth Employment Skills the Nelson Youth Centre.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

The key partners include literacy organization, library, college and employment services. As we work towards sustainable growth we will look to include opportunities for other groups such as the youth and aboriginal community.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Our Community Literacy Advisory Committee (task group) has a sub-committee that focuses on the development of the Learning Place. Members work together collaboratively to guide and develop our shared, community space.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list