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Help us to continue to fight the low-literacy crisis in Greater Cleveland this #GivingTuesday!

sun_swooshAt The Literacy Cooperative, our mission is to work to advance literacy by raising awareness of the issue, promoting effective public advocacy and fostering a delivery system with maximum impact on the region. This #GivingTuesday we need your help to be able to continue to fulfill our mission.

In Cuyahoga County 435,000 adults read below an 8th grade level. To put that into perspective, we could fill every seat at First Energy Stadium, Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, Wolstein Center, Public Auditorium, Public Hall and Playhouse Square with Cuyahoga County’s low-literate adults and there would still be 260,000 people left standing in the street. Many adults are unable to read bus schedules, medicine labels, nutritional information or their children’s homework. Making it difficult for them to find jobs, to keep themselves and their families healthy and for them to help their children succeed in their education.

Children who are born to illiterate or low-literate parents are less likely to be read to or spoken to at a young age. This creates a word gap from the very beginning of a child’s life. In 1995, Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that low-income children are exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers before age 3. These children are behind from the very beginning of their lives.

There are communities in Cuyahoga County where more than 80% of children entering kindergartners are not academically prepared for school. From the very start, these children are facing an immense challenge — they start school having to play catch up in order to succeed in school. They have limited time to close this gap. By the end of third grade, children are reading to learn instead of learning to read and if they are not proficient readers by that point it becomes much more difficult for them to catch up to their peers.  One in six children who are not reading proficiently by third grade will not graduate high school on time. These children are more at risk of dropping out of school and becoming part of a cycle that becomes difficult to break.

Children need to be exposed to literacy and learning from a young age. When parents are engaged in their child’s education, their children are more likely to get good grades, have fewer behavioral problems and are more likely to graduate on time. Unfortunately, this becomes difficult for low-literate parents. They are challenged to engage with their children’s schooling and therefore are unable to help them succeed academically.

The Literacy Cooperative is uniquely qualified to maximize the opportunities and provide the literacy leadership needed for real system change. For the last 10 years, The Literacy Cooperative has worked to improve literacy in the Greater Cleveland area. We concentrate our efforts in 3 focus areas, Early Literacy, Adult Literacy and Career Pathways, and Parent Engagement. With our 3 focus areas we cover all the areas of literacy, maximizing our efforts to help Greater Cleveland citizens improve their lives and thus help improve the community.

In the last 10 years, we have helped parents to be their child’s first teacher using SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to fullerton-1Assure Ready Kids in Cuyahoga County).  We are coordinating our community’s Reach Out and Read program to help new parents understand the importance of reading to their children daily and connecting them with infant and toddler programs to help in the learning process. Using an evidence based program, STEP, Supporting Tutors, Engaging Pupils, we trained hundreds of tutors to use structured lesson plans to assist children struggling with reading. We continuously advocate for adult literacy services connected to career pathways to allow low-literate adults to engage in training and employment that leads to family-sustaining wages.  That’s why we are leading a partnership with northeast Ohio adult education providers and workforce development agencies to develop and implement contextualized curriculum programs in the Manufacturing, Healthcare, Hospitality and IT sectors.  We advocate for the increase of adult and early literacy funding and stronger policies that provide greater opportunities for our low-literate residents to receive support and wrap around services to succeed. We partake in days like International Literacy Day and Read Across America day to bring awareness to the importance of literacy. To learn more about our work, be sure to take a look at our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

To continue to be an agent of change, The Literacy Cooperative needs your help. On Tuesday, November 29th, #GivingTuesday we are asking you to support our work with a contribution.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving back to the community celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 and was created to offset the intense shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. People across the world come together to support and contribute to worthy causes and organizations. On Tuesday, November 29th we are asking for you to make a donation through our GiveGab page or through the donation button on our Facebook page. Through your generous support, we will be able to continue to fight the low-literacy crisis in Greater Cleveland.

Join us in celebrating International Literacy Day, September 8th!

For the third year The Literacy Cooperative in partnership with Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and WKYC, will celebrate International Literacy Day, September 8, 2016, promoting the importance of literacy and reading with a social media campaign. (We are also holding our inaugural Corporate Spelling Bee on September 8th as well). Last year we had over 500 pictures shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also trended #1 in the Cleveland area.

International Literacy Day 2016 collage

The city of Cleveland is already coming together to celebrate International Literacy Day with us! Some great pictures from Cleveland police officers, Captain Sulzer and Community Policing Commander Johnny Johnson, the Mayor of South Euclid, the team at Books@Work and the team from NEO Regional Library System!

Why is this so important? Literacy is an essential skill, one we use every day. Whether it is checking a bus schedule before work, reading a recipe to make dinner or taking medications before bed; it is a skill many of us don’t even think about using. For many though reading is difficult, limiting their everyday lives. In Cuyahoga County 435,000 adults read at or below a 7th grade level. For these low-literate adults daily life can be a struggle. Low literacy limits their job opportunities, which in turn limits their ability to earn a livable wage and take care of their families. Lack of literacy skills can make it difficult to help their children in school; causing their children to lose a valuable resource for their own successes. Even every day activities, like grocery shopping and cooking are difficult. They may be unable to read nutritional information on food, limiting their ability to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

This may seem like a large crisis, one beyond your capabilities to help, but that is not true. One of the main ways you can help is by raising awareness on International Literacy Day, Thursday September 8th .  International Literacy Day is a global campaign instituted by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to raise awareness about literacy and how it is critical to our region’s economic future.

The theme for this year’s campaign is Recommended Reads. On September 8th, we are asking everyone to post a reading selfie with a book or books that you recommend for others to read. It can be an all-time favorite book, a new release that you fell in love with or even an interesting article. Then be sure to share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #CLEreads2016 and #RecommendedReads. Be sure to follow the hashtags yourself to see what others are posting and to get some reading suggestions for yourself.

Don’t have the book on hand? No problem, just post a reading selfie and include the title and author of the book you would like to recommend in your post. Be sure to tag the author in your post. There is nothing a writer enjoys more than seeing their work recommended to others. Want to help a low literate adults improve their reading skills?  Suggest a children’s book for parents to read to their children. We want everyone to end the day with having added at least one book to their “to-read” list as well as have heightened their awareness about literacy in our community and country.

We have an additional way you can participate in this very important day with us. During the month of September the library systems of Cuyahoga County are promoting “A Card for Every Child,” initiative. The initiative seeks to ensure that all children under 18 in Cuyahoga County own a library card.

In preparation for the day we are asking you to encourage your followers, friends, family and colleagues to go to the library and get their library card. Don’t have one yourself? Set an example and get your own card. The library is full of wonderful books for you and for you to recommend to other

International Literacy Day is an important day to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. It only takes a few simple steps to participate:

literacy_day2016

Please consider joining us in celebrating International Literacy Day on September 8th. Low literacy in our community is a crisis. One that desperately needs your help and attention. One picture and post on September 8th can do so much to help us continue to raise awareness about this important issue.

We look forward to seeing all the fantastic reading selfies and great book recommendations!

Make sure you are following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@literacycoop) to stay up-to-date on the activities of the day!

Welcome!

sun_swooshHave 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!

Be sure to check out our other Social Media pages on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and Linkedin to stay up-to-date on future blog posts as well as everything else we are working on.

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?