Hide from Insights Page


Line with text

Volunteer Tutoring Leads Attorney to Create Community Literacy Program

Thirty years ago, Margaret Barker, a practicing attorney, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and — in the face of declining health — had to make the difficult decision to close her practice. Unsure of what path to take forward in life, she saw a newspaper ad asking volunteers to tutor at the local community college.

As she began working as a reading tutor, her eyes were opened after learning one of her students, who had a high school diploma, was unable to read.

“There was this huge reading problem in the community, and no resources were available beyond basic adult education at the community college,” Margaret says.

Margaret (right) works with Executive Director Esodie Geiger (left) on lesson plans for their literacy students.

After tutoring at the college for several years, Margaret was inspired to found a much-needed community literacy program in 2007: Ethos Literacy. Since then, the Albuquerque-based organization has enrolled 1,600 people throughout Bernalillo County.

A 61-year-old student has been enrolled in Ethos’ Basic Literacy Program for more than a year. She wanted to improve her skills to be able to read books, especially her Bible.

“This organization means a lot to me. My tutor is very patient with me, and I’m very grateful. When I first found Ethos, I was struggling with the sounds of my vowels and ABCs — I’m now able to read chapter books,” she says.

Enterprise Bank & Trust began partnering with Ethos Literacy in 2022, when Uriah Cachora, AVP, Community Development Officer at Enterprise, began serving on its Board of Directors. Enterprise has since sponsored events like the ‘Burque Bee, an adult spelling bee fundraiser, and made financial contributions to assist with educational programming, specifically tutor curriculum.

“English is my third language, so I personally know how hard it can be to read and write in English. The impact Ethos has on the community is incredible; I couldn’t ask for such an amazing group of people to work with,” Uriah says.

Ethos Literacy, 2023 community impact report

Margaret stepped down from her position as the organization’s president and is enjoying her original role as a reading tutor.

“Serving as a tutor is one of the most rewarding things you can do to make a direct impact on an individual,” Margaret says. “The knowledge you share ripples out into everything. Literacy touches everything in a person’s life. It determines how much you make, what jobs you have, where you live, your health — everything. That’s why this organization and the work we do is so powerful.”

Ethos Literacy, 2023 Community Impact Report