Have you ever thought about how much you read on a daily basis? It is a skill many of us who are literate take for granted every day. Part of your morning routine may be taking medications. You read the label to know how much to take, when and with what foods. You read through a recipe in order to make your family a delicious and nutritious meal. On your way to work you read road signs in order to find your way quickly and efficiently. If you don’t drive you read the bus schedule so that you can make it to work on time.
Now imagine that you can’t read. You need a job but you can’t read the application. You have three different medications to take but you can’t read the names, dates or times and cannot take them when you need to. You can’t read the nutritional information on a package and thus can’t make the right dietary decisions for you and your family. Can you now see how difficult life would be if you could not read?
The Literacy Cooperative understands how important and essential being able to read and write is for everyday life. In Cleveland 66% of adult residents are low literate. In some Cleveland neighborhoods (Kinsman and Hough) the illiteracy rate is as high as 95%. These are statistics that beg for change and The Literacy Cooperative is working to enact that change.
This year The Literacy Cooperative turns ten. Twelve years ago, The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation gathered together a broad spectrum of the community to seek creative and new solutions of low literacy and its implications. Over the course of 14 months the effort brought together more than 300 individuals representing 250 organizations. The group came to a consensus on two key recommendations: develop an action plan and create a collaborative organization to carry out that plan. This outcome showed that there were many service providers working with a number of individuals but there was no organization that was focused on the systematic changes that were are needed to advance literacy. The collaborative organization created to focus on these systematic changes became The Literacy Cooperative in 2006.
For the past 10 years The Literacy Cooperative has been working hard to advance literacy by raising awareness of the issue, promoting effective public advocacy and fostering a delivery system with maximum impact on the region. The three main focus areas The Literacy Cooperative works around are Early Literacy, Adult Literacy and Career Pathways, and Parent Engagement.
The Literacy Cooperative is an intermediary nonprofit, meaning we work with other organizations in order to direct systemic change. Our vision is to ensure that all children and adults in Greater Cleveland will reach their highest literacy potential for employment, self-sufficiency and life-long learning. The Literacy Cooperative is working with a number of programs and pilots; for more information check out the rest of our website or come back here for further blog posts about these projects.
This is just a very quick and concise introduction into who we are as an organization. We are involved in many different aspects of literacy and are working on a number of initiatives. This blog will be one of our ways to help keep the community informed and involved! For more posts about the number of organizations and programs we support as well reading recommendations from our staff and even guest posts, be sure to bookmark this page and check back for updates!
We want to hear from you. How would illiteracy affect your day to day life? And what are ways you are helping to fight illiteracy in our community?