Local program addresses adult literacy crisis as part of International Literacy Day and National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week
KALAMAZOO, MI — On September 8, the world will mark the 45th annual International Literacy Day as a reminder that reading, writing, and basic math remain an elusive target for nearly 800 million adults around the globe, including more than 31,000 adults in Kalamazoo County.
In recognition of International Literacy Day and National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (AEFL), September 10-16, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) is hosting two events in the community to address adult literacy. It will also celebrate the success of its Everyone Needs to Read Annual Campaign, which raised more than $26,000 to support adult literacy services throughout the county.
“We are very excited about the progress that is being made to serve the adult learners in our community who want to improve their reading skills,” KLC Executive Director Michael Evans said. “With the success of our annual campaign and the support we have received from our community, we will be able to open more Community Literacy Centers and train more volunteer tutors than we ever have in our organization’s history.”
The KLC is hosting a Tutor Orientation and Literacy Advocate Training to recruit volunteer tutors on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Northside Association for Community Development, 612 N. Park Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. The NACD is also announcing the launch of the Workforce Development Center. This center will serve seniors, veterans and other adults in the Northside neighborhood who want to enhance their employment, basic literacy and academic skills (including pre-GED education) to become more self-sufficient and economically empowered individuals.
A Neighborhood Forum on Adult Literacy is being held at the Edison Community Literacy Center at Stockbridge Avenue United Methodist Church at 1009 East Stockbridge Avenue on Thursday, September 13, 2012, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to see what can be done to help adults in the neighborhood read better. Research shows that one in five adults in the Edison neighborhood may be struggling readers. Anyone would like to learn more about the literacy programs in the neighborhood, would like to volunteer to help someone learn to read, or know someone who needs FREE reading help, you should come to this meeting. Light refreshments will be provided. This meeting is being hosted by the KLC in collaboration with Western Michigan University and the Stockbridge Avenue United Methodist Church.
The first-ever Everyone Needs to Read Annual Campaign raised $26,425 to support the cause of adult literacy, which will be used to support adult literacy programs and activities throughout Kalamazoo County. The KLC also was recently awarded a $12,000 grant from the Verizon Reads Foundation for its programs. This developments will place the KLC will be in a more stable financial position to strengthen and expand the organization’s capacity to provide adult literacy instruction and learning for the 31,000 adults with low literacy skills throughout Kalamazoo County. With this support:
- Community Literacy Centers will be established and supported at Interfaith Homes, Douglass Community Association, Stockbridge United Methodist Church, Vineyard Outreach Ministry, Northside Association for Community Development and other areas throughout the county.
- The KLC will be able to provide adult literacy services at the neighborhood level.
- For the first time, the Northside, Edison, Vine and Douglass neighborhoods will be able to provide basic adult literacy in their neighborhoods with their own neighborhood residents.
- The KLC will be able to train 100 new tutors to reach at least 100 new adult learners in the county. This will help us reach our goal of 150 adult learners by year’s end.
- The KLC will grow participation in the Adult Literacy Collaborative of Kalamazoo County from 16 agencies to more than 20 agencies from adult education, workforce development, literacy, English as a Second Language and other community organizations.
The KLC is part of a national network of organizations that work every day to end the adult literacy crisis. According to ProLiteracy, the largest membership organization advancing the cause of adult literacy and basic education in the nation, more than 30 million adults in the U.S. lack the most basic literacy skills, and 15 percent of Americans without a diploma don’t have jobs. ProLiteracy provides more than 1,100 community-based literacy organizations, including the KLC, with tools to help educate adult learners and help them meet the demands of today’s workforce.
“Low literacy costs the nation more than two hundred billion dollars each year in lost productivity, as well as an additional one to two billion in health and safety issues,” said David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Every dollar spent on adult literacy and education provides returns to the country through higher employment, added tax revenues, reduced welfare payments, and less crime.”
The KLC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide quality literacy education that enhances the lives of adults through programs designed to increase reading, writing and spelling skills. For nearly 40 years the KLC has trained volunteers to tutor adults in need of literacy services. Presently, the KLC recruits, trains and equips volunteers to tutor adults and has approximately 150 active tutors assisting 150 adults in need of literacy education in the community.
For more information about the International Literacy Day and AEFL events or the Everyone Needs to Read Annual Campaign, please call the Kalamazoo Literacy Council at (269) 382-0490 Ext. 222 or visit www.kalamazooliteracy.org.
Michael D. Evans
Kalamazoo Literacy Council
(269) 382-0490 EXT. 222