About Our Organization
In the early 1990’s, Literacy New Brunswick established a network of community-based literacy programs, referred to as the Community Academic Services Program (CASP). This program was aimed at assisting adults in New Brunswick, especially in the rural areas, who had not completed their high school education. The CAS Program assisted adults in improving and gaining new skills so they could become fully participating members of their community.
As CASP was being developed, the federal government was setting up the Community Access Program (CAP), administered by Industry Canada and coordinated in New Brunswick by the Connect NB Branch. This initiative aimed to provide affordable public access to the internet, skills training to use the technology effectively, and additional services such as resume building and job search opportunities. CAP intended to help residents in both rural and urban communities take advantage of emerging opportunities in the new global, knowledge-based economy.
The day-to-day operations of both CASP and CAP were administered by local steering committees. The dynamic of the steering committees was made up of local residents with an interest in literacy and computer skills training. Both programs had to establish partnerships within the community and rely on the availability of free space in order to operate.
In 2008, Literacy New Brunswick and the Connect NB Branch merged together and was renamed the Community Adult Learning Services Branch under the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. The local steering committees disbanded and regional committees were established across the province. In April of 2008, Central Valley Adult Learning Association Inc. (CVALA) became a registered, incorporated not-for-profit. The association was operated by a Board of Directors, and the day-to-day operations were carried out by a full-time Director of Operations. The nature of the programs did not change. However, they were renamed - CASP became CALP (Community Adult Learning Program), and CAP became E-Learning.
Initially, both programs were met with success, but as of 2012 the E-Learning program was no longer working in many parts of the country. The brick-and-mortar delivery model was breaking down, and residents were no longer accessing services at E-Learning Centres. In March 2012, the E-learning Centres closed. However, there remained a need for computer-based training and a new program was put into place: Digital Literacy. This program had similar goals and objective demographics, but with one major difference: the teacher now travelled to the learners rather than the learners having to go to an E-Learning centre. Thus far, the program has seen some success.
Central Valley Adult Learning Association Inc. has a mandate to provide educational opportunities to adults. Our goals include making adult education more accessible, increasing awareness of the importance of adult learning for full social inclusion and participation, poverty reduction and wealth generation, and enhancing our region’s labour market.
New Brunswick has one of the highest populations with the lowest literacy levels in the country. Through partnerships with government departments, stakeholders, and community-based organizations, CVALA works toward improving these statistics. An educated workforce has a greater chance of earning a higher level of income, is more self-sufficient and less dependent on government programs, benefits from a higher quality of life, and is less prone to sickness. In order to address this social problem, an integrated approach and the support of many partners and stakeholders is essential.
Board of Directors
Left to Right: Brenda Barton; Director, Bob Stranach; President, Diana Pike; Secretary and Human Resources Chair, Jim Petrie; Director, Susan Cloutier; Vice President. Missing from Photo: Samira Alavi; Director.
These are the people who make it all happen behind the scenes. CVALA is very fortunate to have such caring and talented volunteers that have so much passion for what they do. Through sharing their time and talents they help our organization grow and become something to be sought after. Our volunteers create a difference in our teachers’ and learners’ lives, and with them we create positive changes for our community.
Laura Burris - Executive Director
Laura Burris began working for Central Valley Adult Learning Association Inc. in 2021. As the Executive Director, she works closely with its members and stakeholders to achieve strategic goals. Laura has over eight years of experience working in the not-for-profit sector, and community programs.
Laura earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Mount Saint Vincent University and is currently completing a Human Resource Management Certificate at Fleming College.
Chelsae Postma - GED Test Administrator
Chelsae is passionate about education, creating opportunities, and helping individuals achieve their best. She believes every person is continuously learning and growing from their life experiences. Being part of an organization that aids in attaining personal and professional goals is why she loves working at CVALA.
Chelsae holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Acadia University and is currently learning French in the hopes of becoming bilingual. She has over ten years of experience in program coordination and staff supervision and five years in test facilitation.