Tag Archives: economy

What is International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day.png

This year marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and Literacy KC is so excited to celebrate this day with the rest of the world. International Literacy Day 2016 celebrates and honors the past five decades of national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase literacy rates around the world. It also addresses current challenges and looks to innovative solutions to further boost literacy in the future.

In 1966, UNESCO officially proclaimed September 8th International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

Now International Literacy Day is celebrated worldwide, bringing together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. This year the focus is on innovation.

According to UNESCO, over 757 million adults worldwide still lack basic reading and writing skills. Of the 757 million low-literate adults, over two thirds of them are women. While literacy rates have steadily increased over the past 50 years, these statistics help to show that there is still work to be done. Below are two graphs that compare youth literacy statistics from 1985 and 2015, showing a visible increase in literacy rates throughout the 20 year span.

19852015

“The world has changed since 1966 – but our determination to provide every woman and man with the skills, capacities and opportunities to become everything they wish, in dignity and respect, remains as firm as ever. Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all”  

-UNESCO Director General

While Literacy KC focuses its resources on the Kansas City community, where there are an estimated 225,000 low-literate adults, adults all over the country and the world continue require assistance to improve their literacy skills. Literacy KC is proud to be a welcoming and safe community resource for Kansas City area adults to improve their reading, writing, math and digital skills. We are excited to continue to deliver an innovative, research-based classroom model of instruction as we strive to create a future where there is literacy for all.

From all of us at Literacy KC, we wish you a Happy International Literacy Day!

Are you looking for a way to help celebrate National Literacy Month with Literacy KC? Here are some ways that you can make a difference with us:

  • Get tickets for our annual Literacy For All Luncheon on Friday, September 16th! This event will give you the chance to hear from our guest speakers Jeffri Chadiha, a senior columnist for NFL.com and the NFL Network, and Tom Bloch, former H&R Block CEO and Co-Founder of University Academy. This fundraiser that helps to support Literacy KC and is a great way to connect with other literacy advocates in the community!
  • Become a volunteer with us! Email kbrown@literacykc.org or call (816) 333-9332 for more information.
  • Make a financial commitment to support Literacy KC  as we continue to be an accessible resource for adults that require literacy assistance in the Kansas City Community.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under For Students, For Tutors, For Volunteers, In The News, Uncategorized

5 Ways To Celebrate National Literacy Month!

national literacy month

September is National Literacy Month and at Literacy KC, we are so excited to celebrate! Strong literacy skills are essential skills for the development and growth of a community and our nation as a whole. However, literacy can easily get taken for granted as something that many of us have had the majority of our lives. This month is one to cherish because it helps to increase the awareness of low-literate populations within communities all over the country. Here are some things that you can do to help celebrate literacy throughout September

Fuel

A father reads to his children during one of Literacy KC’s Let’s Read: Family Reading Program gatherings.

1. READ READ READ! The best way to celebrate a month full of literacy is by, of course, reading! Whether you take advantage of individual, group, and/or family reading opportunities, all are wonderful ways to enjoy this month. If there was ever a time when you needed an excuse to explain your excessive reading, now you have one!

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2. Celebrate National Literacy Day on September 8th by visiting your local library and checking out a book! If you are in the Kansas City area, we recommend our partners, Mid-Continent Public Library and Kansas City Public Library.  

3. Increase Your Awareness: Did you know that there are over 225,000 low-literate adults in the Kansas City Metropolitan area? Do some research within your community to gauge the need. Often times the low-literate population within a community is much higher than most people realize. The next step after increasing your awareness, is to take action and help others who may be struggling with some form of low-literacy.

Luncheon-2016-Logo

4. Attend Literacy KC’s Literacy For All Luncheon: Join us on Friday, September 16th from 11:45 am-1:00 pm to hear community leaders, along with Literacy KC volunteers and students, speak about the critical need for literacy in our homes, schools and businesses – and how we are working to accomplish our vision of literacy for all.

This luncheon will provide you with the opportunity to hear from our guest speakers, Jeffri Chadiha, a senior columnist and an on-air personality for the NFL Network and NFL.com, and Tom Bloch, former CEO of H&R Block & Co-Founder of University Academy. You will also hear from other literacy advocates in the community and get to know those involved with Literacy KC. It’s a great opportunity to introduce friends, family, and colleagues to our organization!

To purchase tickets, click here! For additional ticket & sponsorship information, email krogers@literacykc.org.

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5. Volunteer with Us! What better way to celebrate this month than helping others to improve their literacy skills? We have volunteer opportunities that range from tutoring in a classroom or office support to assisting with special events and helping out in our computer lab. To learn more about volunteering, email kbrown@literacykc.org, visit our website, or call (816) 333-9332.

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How Do Our Volunteers Help Literacy KC?

by Kate Brown, Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator

As the staff member responsible for coordinating our volunteer efforts, I get a front row seat each day to the ways volunteers are helping Literacy KC work toward our mission of Literacy for All. Our volunteers are involved with many different aspects of the organization (see chart below), ranging from tutoring in our classes and helping in the computer lab to cutting flashcards and scanning student files. It is truly inspiring to come into work each day and watch as they interact with students and cheer them along as they achieve their educational goals.

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A breakdown of the services provided by Literacy KC volunteers.

The volunteers at Literacy KC are making HUGE contributions to our organization. In the last fiscal year, Literacy KC had over 8,100 volunteer hours served! According to The Independent Sector’s rates for volunteer time, this is equivalent to over $190,000 worth of work. In terms of employees, our volunteers log more hours than 5 full-time workers would. These numbers mean a great deal to Literacy KC and they reinforce what we already know: that our volunteers are some of the most generous and dedicated in Kansas City. Volunteers are an integral part of our team and without them we would be unable to offer the depth of services that our students need and deserve. From all of us at Literacy KC, we’d like to say thank you to our amazing volunteers!

V-Carrie McDonald, Clara Van Draska, Jane Beasley - Copy

Carrie, Clara & Jane are referred  to as “The Librarians” as they are commonly tasked with arranging our library.

Want to join the fun and volunteer with Literacy KC? Contact Kate Brown at kbrown@literacykc.org,visit literacykc.org, or call our office at (816)333-9332.

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Volunteer Rates Have Declined in the U.S

Why do people choose to volunteer? There are a variety of factors that range from the desire to make a difference in the community to learning new skills and building a resume. Regardless of the motivating factor, organizations that rely on volunteer support (such as Literacy KC) certainly appreciate when people in the community get involved. While almost 1 in 4 Americans report volunteering at least once per year, volunteering rates in the U.S have steadily declined over time.

According to the U.S Department of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate of U.S citizens aged 16 & over has consistently decreased since 2002 (27.6%), when the first annual report was conducted. In 2011, 26.8% of U.S citizens reported volunteering at least once during the year. 2015’s volunteer rate was 1.9% than 2011’s, with a net loss of 1,629,000 volunteers despite a growing U.S population. The table below outlines the year to year changes in volunteering over the last five years.

Screenshot 2016-06-08 10.45.56

That leaves many people to wonder: why is the volunteering rate is decreasing? Some of the possible reasons that have been listed include economic and financial stress, regional volunteering differences, changes in government funding, and an increase in single-parent households/households where parents hold multiple jobs. The variety of reasons given suggests that perhaps there is not a single factor causing this shift, but rather a combination of them as a whole.

The next question that is important to examine is: what types of activities are volunteers dedicating their time to? In 2015, the U.S Department of Labor Statistics found that among people who volunteered, the top three types of organizations that drew volunteers were religious (33.1%), educational & youth service related (25.2%), and social/community service related (14.6%).

Screenshot 2016-06-08 10.51.19

The graph above shows differences in volunteer rates between men & women, along with the total volunteer rate. While women traditionally volunteer at a higher rate than men, does each gender perform the same tasks when they volunteer? The data suggests that the answer to this question is no. In 2015, the top three volunteer activities that men performed were:

  • General Labor (12.3%)
  • Coaching, Refereeing, or Supervising Sports Teams (9.3%)
  • Collecting, Preparing, Distributing, or Serving Food (9.2%)

On the other hand, the top three volunteer activities for women in 2015 were:

  • Collecting, Preparing, Distributing, or Serving Food (12.9%)
  • Tutoring or Teaching (10.6%)
  • Fundraising (9.9%)

Regardless of the activity that a volunteer chooses to dedicate his or her time to, the value of volunteer hours to an organization is monumental. It is estimated that as of 2015, each hour of volunteer time is worth $23.56. In Missouri specifically, there are over 37,000 Nonprofit organizations!

Literacy KC is so grateful to all of our volunteers that have chosen our organization as their destination for dedicating their time. Despite the national trend of declining volunteer rates, Literacy KC has experienced tremendous volunteer growth over the years as the organization has expanded its size and services. In 2015, Literacy KC had 355 Volunteers who dedicated 7,139 hours to the organization! That is the equivalent of 3.5 full time employees and would have cost the organization over $165,000. Have you ever thought about volunteering your time at Literacy KC? Come join a truly special community of people who are working to improve adult literacy in Kansas City. There are a number of ways to get involved! For more information about volunteer opportunities, please visit our website, email kbrown@literacykc.org, or call 816-333-9332.

 

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Literacy Links to Civic Participation

It seems that at least 23 of the 24-hour-news-cycle hours are currently dedicated to political races, disgraces, and other early signs of an election year.  So, you may ask: “What does all this noise have to do with our national problem of illiteracy?”

Quite a lot.

Voting is an important right that all citizens 18 and older are granted. While citizens should always exercise their right to vote, no matter what level of government the election is for, this is an especially important year because of the presidential election. Presidential caucuses for Kansas Republicans and Democrats are on March 5. Missouri presidential preference primaries for all parties are on March 15. There are many differences in the rules for each event, but all have one thing in common. You may not participate unless you are a currently registered voter.  Thanks to our 21st-century technological advances, you can go online to register to vote, or to access a paper copy to mail to your election authority. If you haven’t filled out your voter registration form yet, or even if you already have, take a look at the websites and read through the forms:

www.dss.mo.gov or  www.kssos.org or www.sos.mo.gov

One thing you’ll notice is that they are wordy. And they are worded in ways that can be hard to decipher. For individuals who are low literate, forms like these are a real challenge. If you know your history, you know that literacy tests were used in 20th century America to deliberately disenfranchise and deter particular voters—descendants of slaves, poor people of all colors, immigrants. Assuming there is no longer such intent, today’s voter registration forms have the same unfortunate result for the hundreds of thousands of good citizens who struggle with low literacy. And in our 21st century society, there is the additional barrier of finding and accessing these forms online. A convenience for many of us, but not for individuals who either don’t have digital access, or may not have the knowledge to navigate to the appropriate websites.

sample ballot

Ballots can be complicated, wordy, and intimidating.

At Literacy KC, many of our students are actively involved and deeply connected to their communities. They are caregivers for family and friends, they lead Bible studies at their churches, they are leaders at work. But not all of our students may be registered voters because they lack the digital and literacy skills to fill out the appropriate forms.

Our classes help our students achieve their personal goals, but we also help them grow in confidence and strengthen their literacy skills so they can become active citizens, exercise their right to vote, and have a voice in our democratic process.

Vote-Counts1

 

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The Real Value of Adult Literacy

One in five American adults cannot access or use the Internet.

So why does it matter anyway if more adults are literate?

This year, we will be looking at ways that our great KC can be even better with more of our city’s adults reading, writing, being hired for family-supporting jobs, becoming leaders in their churches, volunteering at their children’s schools, voting, paying taxes, and overall being more community involved. Future posts will include interviews with employment agencies, major companies, schools and colleges, hospitals, and civic leaders about how adult literacy impacts their efforts in Kansas City.

Nationwide, 36 million adults can’t read better than the average 3rd grader.

Without basic reading, writing, math, and computer skills these Americans are struggling to find jobs, stay healthy, and support their families. Current financial resources, according to the ProLiteracy organization, help only 3 million of these adults to improve their futures and the communities around them.

It’s the Economy

The dire situation affects the entire nation. Low literacy hurts the economy by limiting demand for products and stunting job creation. Low literate adults are also twice as likely to be out of work – raising the high rate of unemployment even higher.

Rising Health Costs

Patients with low literacy skills have a 50 percent increased risk of hospitalization.

Not being able to read can actually be a life or death situation. Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information, according to the Center for Healthcare Strategies, making it difficult to maintain good health.

The Digital Literacy Divide

One in five American adults cannot access or use the Internet. Those without a high school education are among the least likely to have access.

At Literacy KC in 2015, in our Ticket to Read program alone, 256 students participated in twice weekly instruction in reading, writing, basic computer skills, and math. Of that number, 49 students were hired for a new job and 37 received a raise at their current job. In addition, 186 sent their first email and 68 attended a child’s school event. Greater productivity, mitigated under- or unemployment, and increased family attention on education: How can that not help us all?

Sources
ProLiteracy: the US Crisis
The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies
Pew Internet and American Life Project
ProLiteracy Member Statistical Report
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (Department of Education)

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