Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Words
What does it take to break the cycle of illiteracy?
Project Literacy: March 2017

Watch First Words to find out.

It is a sad fact that almost one billion adults worldwide cannot read or write a simple sentence. Imagine not being able to fill out a form at the hospital, vote in an election, take the right bus, or send a text message to a loved one. That’s the reality for one in ten people alive today. What’s more, it’s a reality that affects more than just the individual; it affects their families and generations to come. Children of illiterate parents are more likely to grow up to be illiterate and go on to have illiterate children themselves.

With your help, we can break this cycle.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Martin Co FL :: Chicago IL :: Arizona

Library foundation honors longtime volunteeer [sic]
Palm Beach Post: 3.02.2017 by Michelle Piasecki

When Leo Clancy first suggested that the Library Foundation of Martin County help adults who couldn’t read, it was difficult to get people who would admit they needed help.

So instead of letting them come to the program, Donna Musso, the program’s teacher, brought it to them.

“Our whole theme was we would go to the neighborhoods,” Clancy, 84, said. “In the beginning, we went anywhere and everywhere … even restaurants.”

The Library Foundation recently honored Clancy with the Kiplinger Literacy Award for his service. Clancy served on the Library Foundation Board from 2006 to 2012. During that time, he served as treasurer, vice president and president, and he has worked for causes such as adult literacy and raised the money to build an add-on to the Cummings Library in Palm City.

Clancy found his passion for volunteering when he retired from his job as the world-wide chief human resources officer for Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm.

“I have been in fundraising for a long time,” said Clancy, who has lived in Palm City for 23 years. “I went to people who were well-to-do and generous. There is a segment of our society who are very generous with their time and money.”

His efforts, especially in the area of adult literacy, is something that Clancy still feels passionate about, even though he isn’t as involved as he once was.

“The need is absolutely immense,” he said about adult literacy. “It’s amazing the number of people who drop out of high school at a young age. My thought was that these are forgotten people who have no one to speak with them, and they won’t speak for themselves.”   READ MORE @

'Intense' surge in citizenship interest strains literacy programs
Chicago Tribune: 3.02.2017 by Denise Crosby

What a difference a few months — and a new president — can make.

When I showed up at one of the Dominican Literacy Center's citizenship classes before November's election, there were a couple of dozen students in attendance.

These days, those class sizes have almost tripled, and because of the large number, "we had to split into two classes and find another teacher to help us out," said Sister Kathleen Ryan, executive director of the Dominican Literacy Center.

Family Focus is among the Fox Valley agencies experiencing a similar swell. Previous workshops introducing the citizenship process had between 20 to 30 people, said youth development coordinator Julian Vargas. But at the most recent workshop Saturday, more than 200 Aurora-area residents showed up. Because employees, working 12 hours that day, were able to only sign up 95, the rest "were told to come back on Monday," Vargas said.  READ MORE @

80,000 Pima County Adults Don't Have Diploma or GED
Arizona Adult Literacy Week celebrates those who've worked to overcome literacy challenges.
Arizona Public Media: 3.06.2017 by Andrea Kelly

More than 80,000 adults in Pima County do not have a high school diploma or GED, according to Pima Community College.

That statistic makes them less likely to have a job, and their children mirror their prospects, said Regina Suitt, a vice president of adult basic education at Pima Community College. She says the best indicator of how a child will do in school is his mother's education.

“The more we help mothers and parents, the more we’re helping children," Suitt said.
Gov. Doug Ducey declared this Arizona Adult Literacy Week, a chance to celebrate those who overcame the kind of barriers that crop up when someone doesn’t finish high school.

A high school diploma or GED is one indicator of a person’s literacy, Suitt said.  LISTEN

Friday, March 17, 2017

Preserve Funding for the IMLS, NEA, the NEH, and PBS :: Sign the Petition :: everylibrary

Preserve funding for the IMLS, NEA, the NEH, and PBS
Sign the petition to Preserve Funding for the IMLS, NEH, NEA, and PBS
everylibrary: March 2017

At EveryLibrary, we believe that any threatened cuts to funding for libraries and museums, arts, humanities, and cultural programs is a threat to all cultural institutions. President Trump has just released his "America First" budget that eliminates federal funding for all of the institutions that support these programs. These programs account for incredibly insignificant portion of the national budget (less than 0.5%) and while he diverted these funds for the Military, we have to ask; what are we fighting for, if not the arts and humanities? These are the simple human things that make life worth fighting for.

“The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.” - Winston Churchill

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Cutting this funding means that countless libraries will lose access to the grants that allow them to replace crumbling technology and infrastructure that many rural and urban communities depend on. Libraries often provide the only broadband access to rural communities and many Americans in all areas often rely on libraries to apply to jobs, access training to learn new skills, and many entrepreneurs use the resources found in the library to get a competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace. In fact, for every dollar spent on libraries, more than $5 are returned to the community.

We also need to stand up and speak out now to our elected officials about the importance of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Public Broadcasting Service. Yes, only a small portion of their $741 million combined budgets goes to libraries for programs. But those are the pretty significant programs through libraries that improve the cultural, artistic, and social lives of many communities. We are asking you today to help hold the line on IMLS and NEA and NEH and PBS, not just for those library programs, but for the cultural and artistic life of our country

Please use this form to contact your members of Congress today and ask them to preserve IMLS, NEA, NEH, and PBS funding in the next and future budgets. You can make a difference today by sending this message early about cultural programming and our libraries.

Let your elected officials know that these are American budget priorities.

Update: Read the IMLS statement on March 16 about how eliminating this unique library program would impact "library services to every state and territory in the country".

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Hagerstown MD :: Guilford Co NC :: Chemung/Schuyler Cos NY

Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown ministers to community through literacy
Herald Mail Media: 2.27.2017 by Janet Heim

The mission team of Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown is always on the lookout for new ways to serve.

Cindy Brown, director of programs at Otterbein, said every program or ministry the church offers or explores begins with a member's passion, interest or involvement.

A new initiative is the perfect example.

"I realize we have many, many members for whom literacy issues are a true passion," Brown said.

For two Saturdays in February, at least a dozen members spent a total of 14 hours receiving training to be tutors from Becky Hein of the Literacy Council of Washington County. The Literacy Council has two programs — basic literacy and English as a Second Language, or ESL.

Although the literacy council usually works with adults, the Otterbein group also plans to work with families for whom English is not their primary language, children, the homeless and those in prison.  READ MORE @

Calling All Readers: Time To Volunteer!
WFMY News2:  2.28.2017 by Lauren Melvin

Whether you're reading text messages, emails or street signs, you're probably reading all day long without even realizing it! And now, you have a chance to use your reading skills to help your neighbors.

There are currently more than 60 adults in Guilford County waiting for literacy instruction. Reading Connections, the largest community-based adult literacy agency in NC, provides free literacy services to adults in Guilford County who wish to improve their basic reading, writing, math, English language, and technology skills through trained volunteers working as one-to-one tutors and small group instructors.  VIDEO

Literacy Volunteers Look to Lower Number of Illiterate Adults
My Twin Tiers: 2.28.2017 by Emily Burkhard

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy reports 36 million American adults are functionally illiterate. That's about 10 percent of our national population, but locally that percentage is even higher.

"So 14,000 adults in Chemung and Schuyler County self identify themselves as being functionally illiterate below a fourth grade level," Program Coordinator for Literacy Volunteers of Chemung and Schuyler Counties Bryon Swartout. "And we're not big county so when you look at the total populations of the two counties combine it's right around 15% of the total population of adults that self-identify themselves as being functionally illiterate."

Literacy Volunteers of Chemung and Schuyler Counties offers free help both in classroom settings and in one on one tutoring sessions.

"We help the adults in our population 16 years of age and older and we just really look at the individualized approach to teaching," Program Director for Literacy Volunteers of Chemung and Schuyler Counties Wendy Jackson said. "And we help them with basic literacy skills everything from reading and writing to spelling, reading prescription labels things like that."

"We deal with what happens after the public school systems in private school system say OK you're good to go have a nice life," Swartout said. "We deal with those aftereffects and what makes that a situation, it's again as diverse as the people that come through."  READ MORE @

Monday, March 13, 2017

Smartphones Will Read and Write Better Than 32 Million American Adults in Next Decade

Smartphones Will Read and Write Better Than 32 Million American Adults in Next Decade
PR Newswire: 3.10.2017 by Project Literacy founded by Pearson

While progress in improving human literacy rates has stalled since 2000[1] -- leaving 758 million[2] adults worldwide and 32 million Americans[3] illiterate-- a new report predicts that technological advances will soon enable over 2 billion[4] smartphones to read and write. At the current rate of technological progress, devices and machines powered by AI and voice recognition software will surpass the literacy level of one in seven American adults within the next ten years.  

In their report, '2027: Human vs. Machine Literacy' the global campaign Project Literacy and Professor Brendan O'Connor, University of Massachusetts Amherst, call for society to commit to upgrading its people at the same rate as upgrading its technology,  so that by 2030 no child is born at risk of poor literacy. They highlight:

 > Machine literacy already exceeds the literacy abilities of 3% of the US population who are non-literate[5]
 > There are more software engineers[6] in the United States than school teachers[7].  We are focusing so much on teaching algorithms and AI to be better at language that we are forgetting that 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level[8]
 > 32 million American adults can not currently read a road sign.  Yet 10 million self-driving cars are predicted to be on the road by 2020[9].
 > The 2017 U.S. Federal Education Budget for schools is $40.4bn[10]. In 2015, investment in AI reached $47.2 billion and is expected to keep on increasing.[11]

Project Literacy, founded and convened by Pearson, is a campaign backed by more than 90 partners as diverse as UNESCO, 

"'Machine reading' is not close to mastering the full nuances of human language and intelligence, despite this idea capturing the imagination of popular culture in movies such as 'Her'. However advances in technology mean that it is likely 'machines' will achieve literacy abilities exceeding those of one in seven Americans within the next decade" said Professor Brendan O'Connor, University of Massachusetts Amherst. "I was interested in exploring this topic as while there has been a lot of discussion around machine learning and machine reading, directly comparing machine literacy with human literacy really highlights the dichotomy between the two."

"Our new report highlights the gulf between technological and human progression. It is predicted that more than two billion smart phones will soon be capable of reading and writing, but 758 million people in the world still lack basic literacy skills and this skills gap is being passed on from generation to generation.  It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game -  technology has a crucial role to play in the fight against illiteracy' said Kate James, Project Literacy spokesperson and Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing Officer at Pearson.

Project Literacy commissioned the report to draw attention to the shocking lack of progress being made in fighting illiteracy as well as shine a spotlight on the potential for technology to help bring about change.  The global movement aim to harness the power of technology to tackle the illiteracy crisis through a range of technology-led partnerships [See Notes to Editors for Case Studies].

The report was launched ahead of Project Literacy's upcoming presence at SxSW in Austin, where representatives will be on the ground raising awareness of the issue of illiteracy among the tech-savvy festival goers. Project Literacy will be encouraging the public to get involved in the fight against illiteracy through a number of unique experiences including an interactive Spelling Bee and thought-provoking talks. To support the initiative, Pearson will be matching donations from the festival on a 1:1 basis [See Notes to Editors for full details].

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Ontario CA :: Plainfield NJ :: Lima OH

Sawyer turns page at Program Read
Sault Star: 2.25.2017 by Brian Kelly

Karen Sawyer has her nose in a book more often these days.

Her literacy skills have taken a jump since she started working one-on-one with a tutor at Program Read two years ago.

“I'm reading more books,” Sawyer told The Sault Star about how life has changed for her since getting help from the non-profit organization on Spring Street. “I never really bothered reading (before).”

She's working on her handwriting at home too. Sawyer, a part-time canteen worker at Essar Centre, is also focusing on her math skills. She wants to move from preparing food orders for spectators at the downtown arena to working cash.

Sawyer sought out Program Read because she knew her reading and writing skills needed help.

“My math wasn't very good either,” she said.  

Program Read offers adult learners 19 and up three ways to get help – in small class of up to eight students, one-on-one instruction or by learning online.  READ MORE @

Plainfield Public Library receives $10,000 American Library Association American Dream Grant
Herald News: 2.25.2017

The Plainfield Public Library District (PPLD) English Language Learner (ELL) program is expanding thanks to a grant from the American Library Association (ALA).

The ALA awarded the Plainfield Library a one-time, $10,000 grant, which will be used to purchase 20 iPads loaded with applications such as Conversation Builder, iTranslate, and U.S. Citizenship. The iPads will enhance the learning experience for participants in the Library's ELL program.

This grant is funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and awarded to public libraries by ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services in order to expand services to adult English language learners.

This is the second time the Library received this grant. In 2010, the Library used the grant of $5,000 to implement the ELL program and grow the English Language Learning resources collection.  READ MORE @

Scrabble tournament aims to improve literacy
Lima News: 2.25.2017 by Craig Kelly

While having fun with wordplay, the participants helped raise money for the Literacy Council to help meet its mandate of helping adults overcome reading difficulties, a mandate it has maintained for the past 30 years.

“Our mission is working with adults to improve their reading, writing, numeracy and computer skills,” Blanchard said. “Across the nation, we have one in six adults who read at about a third-grade level or below, and it just hasn’t changed.”

Having issues with literacy or computer skills can severely limit an individual’s opportunities to lead a full life, Blanchard said, impairing opportunities for employment and other advancements.

“We see generational illiteracy,” he said. “We’ve got grandparents that we’ve seen 20 years ago and we have parents here saying they didn’t have books, newspapers, magazines, Bibles, anything. It wasn’t important to them. We see their kids struggling in third and fourth grade having trouble, and the schools can only do so much.”

As a partner of the United Way of Greater Lima, the Literacy Council has the same mandates of helping individuals in the area become more self-sufficient and employable, but it is continuing to look for help from the community.  READ MORE @

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Archie Willard :: VALUEUSA's founder :: Ardent, Articulate Health Literacy Advocate

Archie Willard (1930 - 2017): Ardent, Articulate Health Literacy Advocate
Founder of VALUEUSA

VALUEUSA's founder Archie Willard has passed away at age 87. Archie learned to read at the age of 54. Being diagnosed as dyslexic was the breakthrough that helped him embark on the path to acquiring the skills he needed to learn to read. Sharing what he'd learned along the way, and wanting to improve conditions for others who couldn't read, led him to become an advocate for literacy.

Mr. Willard was a Fellow with the National Institute for Literacy, and traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad to learn about and consult with others about their literacy programs. Archie’s research design was on adult learner leadership and he led adult learner leaders and practitioners to found the Voice of Adult Learners United for Education now known as VALUEUSA.

Archie was also an ardent, articulate health literacy advocate. For decades, he has taught about why health literacy matters to those we care for and care about. Archie’s actions include leading health literacy conferences, encouraging patients and providers to work together, participating on patient safety panels, and reviewing patient education materials.