The Delta Health Alliance

Delta Regional Authority Press Conference

Posted on: January 19, 2011

Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill Commends the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program in Mississippi

CLARKSDALE, MS – Today, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman, Chris Masingill, participated in a press conference for the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program in Greenville, MS. The press conference was held to celebrate eight successful years of the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program changing lives in Northwest Mississippi. Also making remarks were Trina George, Mississippi State Director of USDA Rural Development, Dr. Connie Schimmel, Director of the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program, and Billy Percy, with the Delta Council Executive Committee.

“DRA is proud to have partnered with the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program for the past 8 years,” Chairman Masingill said. “A literate workforce is an employable workforce and programs like this increase the economic competitiveness of the region. Education and economic development go hand-in-hand and DRA will continue to work with our excellent partners to support effective programs that tackle economic distress in the Mississippi Delta region.”

In the Mississippi Delta region, approximately 40% of adults do not read well enough to fill out an application or read a food label. Through the Rural Community Assistance Program supported by a partnership between the Delta Regional Authority and USDA Rural Development, the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program combats illiteracy in 11 Northwest Mississippi counties. The program combines effective reading instruction with a one-on-one teaching strategy. The average student gains 2-4 grade levels in reading comprehension at the completion of 10 sessions. There are 35 local programs serving 145 adult participants with low literacy levels.

“The Delta Council Adult Literacy Program has had a tremendous impact on the lives of hundreds of Deltans over the past eight years by drastically increasing their literacy skills,” said Billy Percy, with the Delta Council Executive Committee. “We have been blessed with many partners who come together to make the individual programs throughout the Mississippi Delta successful, but none are more important than the Delta Regional Authority. Their focus on results and constant improvement has allowed the Adult Literacy Program to have a tremendous impact on Delta people and our communities. We appreciate Chairman Masingill for being a part of this special celebration and the work he and his staff do every day.”

“I look forward to continuing our successful partnership with DRA and Delta Council to raise reading levels in Mississippi,” said USDA Mississippi Rural Development State Director Trina George. “Because reading, writing and speaking are essential in our everyday lives, well-prepared adult learners are able to compete in today’s workforce and improve their quality of life. This program is one of many in the Mississippi Delta Region that is transforming the lives of families living in Mississippi’s rural communities.”

“The success of the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program is reflected in the program graduates who spoke today,” Dr. Connie Schimmel, Director of the Delta Council Adult Literacy Program said. “We appreciate the support from our funding partners and will continue our successful literacy work in the Delta to enhance employment skills and community contributions from our adult learners.”

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Chris Masingill, appointed by President Obama to be the DRA’s Federal Co-Chairman, along with the governors of the eight states comprise the Authority’s board. For more information, please visit: