2020 was, to put it simply, a tough year. As I and other staff at The Literacy Cooperative reflect on this year, in all of its hardships as well as its successes, we are strengthened in our commitment to literacy. COVID-19 has caused more in our community to experience the everyday challenges faced by many adults who are low literate, including lack of daycare that fits their job needs, school and work schedule changes, food insecurities, and fear of eviction.
Many organizations and businesses, including The Literacy Cooperative, had to quickly adjust to remote working and in-person events being canceled. Nevertheless – the pandemic did not and could not cancel our mission. Our staff quickly transitioned our professional development sessions to a virtual platform, hosted our RAA Luncheon online, and brainstormed new ways to get free books and resources into the community. We partnered with restaurants and other organizations to give away thousands of books, we expanded our social media audience, increased enrollment in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), and created interactive online workshops for families.
When it came to our community’s annual corporate spelling bee, the CLE-Bee, we considered canceling. But we decided the Bee couldn’t be grounded. Thanks to hours upon hours of hard work, we were able to put together an immersive and exciting online spelling bee, which drew over 140 attendees as well as 16 participating teams.
These are just a few examples of our dedicated and committed team working together and supporting one another remotely during a difficult time, as you will read later on. Our full-time staff remained full-time the entirety of the year and our volunteers were able to provide crucial help when possible. We are all so thrilled to be able to advocate for literacy for another year.
Please become our partner in this mission by increasing awareness of the challenges of low literacy, becoming an ambassador for improving literacy, telling your neighbor about DPIL, or making a gift at www.literacycooperative.org/donate.
Thank you to our funders, donors, friends, and Board of Trustees for all of your support this year.
With Warm Regards,
Bob Paponetti, President and CEO
Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is here!!
September 20-26, 2020 is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week! The whole week is devoted to spreading awareness about adult education opportunities and resources for families to help them learn together as a whole. The Literacy Cooperative invites you to join us to spread awareness about the great opportunities available to adults and families in Cuyahoga County!
Our goal is to create enough momentum around #AEFLWeek, #AdultEd, and our own #AdultsLearnCLE and #FamiliesLearnCLE hashtags that adult and whole family education will become a hot topic all over Northeast Ohio! To get involved, click here.
The Literacy Cooperative is an umbrella organization that brings foundations, organizations, and people together to find practical solutions to improve literacy. We are mobilizing Northeast Ohio resources to increase reading, math, and digital literacy, beginning at birth, so our kids are performing at grade level throughout their educational journey. Our support, coordination, and facilitation of adult literacy initiatives are creating pathways that lead to rewarding and life-sustaining careers. We are sharing our research and introducing best practices and pilots that are innovative, interactive, and effective. The Literacy Cooperative provides oversight and overall strategic coordination currently not being fulfilled by individual providers.
Why is this work so important? An assessment of the state of literacy in Cuyahoga County done by The Literacy Cooperative found:
- 42% of all children enrolling in kindergarten are not adequately prepared to succeed
- 10% of all adults do not have a high school diploma
- Nearly 40% of those without a high school diploma are ages 18-44
The Literacy Cooperative and its partners are working with programs such as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a monthly book-gifting initiative that mails books to young children from birth to age five, and Aspire for adults, the state of Ohio’s adult education programs. Efforts such as contextualized curriculum that blend academics and job-related skills are becoming increasingly effective.
Most promising of all are new two-generational (2Gen) projects and programs, involving both children and adults in a family, that are being developed by a 2Gen committee, led by The Literacy Cooperative, of more than 20 educational and human service agencies. Most significantly, the committee has issued 2Gen Cuyahoga: A Community Call to Action to Address Our Economic and Social Gaps on how this collaboration will work to improve social inequities on a whole family basis.
Low literacy is costly to individuals, employers, and societies. The COVID-19 crisis introduced many to the level of disruptions that are experienced by low-literate families daily. According to Anne Mosle, Executive Director – Ascend at the Aspen Institute, half of the hourly workers in the U.S. do not get enough notice to adequately coordinate school, childcare and taking care of a loved one. She eloquently states, “Uncertainty is the damaging byproduct of poverty.” It is also the byproduct of low literacy! It means higher hurdles and lower wealth for this generation of Cuyahoga County residents and generations to come, unless we sponsor and support powerful interventions to halt what has become an intergenerational problem in far too many places in this county. A highly literate population, on the other hand, will contribute to the economic growth of Cuyahoga County and regional prosperity by placing more parents and caregivers within reach of family-sustaining jobs. Perhaps, most importantly, such a population will help energize Cuyahoga County’s most important asset, human capital.