Frequently Asked Questions

What are literacy rates in Cuyahoga County?

Far too many Greater Cleveland residents have literacy below acceptable levels. In Cuyahoga County:

  • One adult out of two has literacy skills below the minimum standard — a statistic unchanged since 1990
  • One in every sixth youth in the U.S. is disengaged from work and education.
  • In the 2015-2016 school year 79.6% of third graders met the Third Grade Reading Guarantee

More information on literacy statistics can be found in the Advancing Literacy in Greater Cleveland report or by clicking here.

Why are literacy skills important to the community?

Literacy skills affect parent-child interaction, school performance, graduation rates, employment opportunities, earnings and the quality of life in our communities. Today, people require more sophisticated skills than ever before to navigate health and financial systems, cope with advanced technology and meet the demands of more high-skilled jobs.

Strong literacy skills are necessary to help people reach their potential in their roles as family members, employees and citizens. Literacy is fundamental to active citizenship and full participation in a democratic society.

Equally important, a literate workforce attracts and retains enterprises that offer jobs with benefits and higher wages, thereby creating a stronger economy for Greater Cleveland. Nationally, low literacy skills cost businesses and taxpayers $20 billion in lost wages, profits and productivity annually. Greater Cleveland cannot afford the costs that accompany low literacy. Learn more.

Is The Literacy Cooperative taking over any duties of the providers?

The Literacy Cooperative is not a direct service provider; rather, it seeks to strengthen direct service providers and the system that supports them. The Cooperative will support literacy providers in a variety of ways, but will not take over their duties.

I provide literacy services to the community. How do I get involved in The Literacy Cooperative?

All literacy service providers and community organizations that support literacy are invited to work with The Literacy Cooperative. Contact us at or 216.776.6180, indicating your interest in getting involved and providing your email and full contact information. You will be included on our stakeholders list and receive program updates and invitations to stakeholder meetings.

How do I find help to improve my literacy skills or the literacy skills of a loved one?

The Literacy Cooperative interacts directly with a growing number of organizations and is aware of even more organizations that can help potential learners of all ages enhance their traditional, financial and health literacy skills. Listed below are a few local organizations to contact.

First Call for Help/United Way of Greater Cleveland
Provides social, health and government information – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dial 211 to speak with a trained advisor or visit the following website:

I would like to volunteer to help improve literacy in Greater Cleveland. How do I get started?

One of the greatest needs among all literacy providers in Greater Cleveland, including those that The Literacy Cooperative works with in some capacity, is for volunteers.

Become a member of Jill’s Literacy League

We need help making sure that Imagination Library books get into the community! If you can spare a few hours here and there, we’ll work with you to find the best jobs to do.

Possible duties:

  • Removing wrapping and labels from returned books 
  • Scanning books for damage (to determine usability in other programs such as Reach Out and Read) 
  • Stuffing envelopes (welcome mailing) 
  • Troubleshooting assistance – making calls for clarification on problem enrollment forms and for returned books
  • Staffing table at special events – to promote enrollment and spread the word

Interested? Contact Joan Spoerl at for more information. Thank you for your advocacy and assistance!

For other volunteering inquiries, we partner with Business Volunteers Unlimited and Greater Cleveland Volunteers. Please contact either of these organizations if you are interested in volunteering in any area of literacy. The agencies can help identify volunteer opportunities with a number of local literacy providers.

Business Volunteers Unlimited

Greater Cleveland Volunteers

If you are unable to find assistance, contact The Literacy Cooperative at 216.776.6180.