GFF Gives Back: Russell Hagg LIFTS Up Adult Literacy Program


“GFF Gives Back” is a new office blog series featuring GFFers and their professional/community/civic involvement. This week we feature Associate Russell Hagg, AIA, LEED AP. Russell is a member of GFF Interiors and is on the Board of Directors for Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT). Russell sat down with me last Friday to tell me more about the program. Jillian: Tell us about LIFT. Russell: In 1961, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) created the organization to offer easily accessible classes to functionally illiterate adults as a response to the concern over the illiteracy rate among adults in Dallas. Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) offers vertically integrated curricula from basic phonics through GED preparation. All of the programs focus on improving workplace literacy and increasing employability. Today, 1 in 5 adults in North Texas cannot read. The average age of the adults learning at LIFT is 37 with 98% of LIFT students below the poverty line. Jillian: How long have you been involved with LIFT? Russell: I have been involved with LIFT for over 8 years. I have been serving on the Board of Directors for a year. In the past, I helped elementary students in after school programs, but saw that the parents of the students were unable to assist with homework. I found that LIFT provides parents an outlet to learn to read. I currently volunteer and teach a math and ready strategies class. Jillian: What made you want to get involved with this particular organization? Russell: Our mission at LIFT Is to enhance lives and strengthen communities by teaching adults to read.  LIFT attracts volunteers from various backgrounds including community workers, highly skilled professionals, retired teachers and homemakers.  LIFT asks for only two hours per week for three months. Some volunteers have been teaching at LIFT for many more years than myself. Jillian: Tell us about a favorite memory or success story. Russell: I have so many great stories about my students, but one in particular stands out. My student was in her late 50’s, but wanted to be go to school to become a nurse’s assistant. She studied at LIFT for over three years and finally received her GED after many unsuccessful attempts. She came back to class to show me her GED certificate and to tell me she had registered at one of the local community colleges. Her smile and excitement made all the hard effort worthwhile. Jillian: Tell us about A Toast to Literacy. Russell: We are currently offering raffle tickets for our amazing annual fundraiser A Toast to Literacy to be held on September 18.  Last year we had over 500 people in attendance.  As well as the raffle tickets we have live auction items the night of event, and a great lineup with our keynote speaker and co-chairs. For more information about Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), please visit: