A New Literacy Paradigm
Posted by Jennifer Vecchiarelli on June 01, 2017 in categoryNewscategoryAdvocacy

Recent proposed reductions in federal funding for adult education are bringing about an even more challenging environment for our programs and students.

Piecing Together the Puzzle for Adult Literacy

While we continue to hear verbal support for the issue of adult literacy, we continue to see limited or diminished funding for our programs.   Everyone recognizes the need for adult literacy and supports the cause, but fewer are willing to fund the programs needed to ensure students get services.    

It is not only the lack of federal and state funding but the ever-increasing competition for limited private-sector resources that is making it more difficult for local programs to raise the funds necessary to meet the growing demand for service.  This trend puts even greater pressure on the volunteers and staff to “do more with less”.

Traditional funding sources such as United Way, the Combined Federal Campaign, and others are looking at broader collective impact models that are difficult for traditional literacy programs to integrate into on a sustained basis.  

As a result of these and other trends, we as a network of community-based programs will need to adjust and respond to these new trends and strategic directions of funders. 

The Essential Role of Adult Literacy Programs     

In addition to pressing our case in terms of the importance of adult literacy to the workforce, families, community, and democracy, we will need to look at new ways to describe our program benefits and our approach.

We will need to emphasize the critical needs of people with low literacy to every social service program. Without a literate population, the many social safety net programs and self-sufficiency initiatives will fail. Our case must be that a push toward better housing, reduced crime, better health care, reduced poverty, increased employment, and similar programs will not succeed unless the population for which they are designed is literate. These programs can succeed only if they include a strong literacy component along with the interventions addressing the particular need.

We believe each new program should go through a “Literacy Impact Review” that would determine the likelihood of success if the target population is not at functioning literacy levels. This review could help highlight the vital and critical value of literacy to all social service programs.

Our recent work with domestic violence programs, homeless shelters, and similar programs proves the value of this approach and the success it can foster. If we can better make the case for the critical nature of literacy to the other community programs we will be in a stronger position to seek funding for our work. 

ProLiteracy will continue to work in these new areas and do what it can to help identify ways to help local programs address this new challenge and opportunity.

Let's Make a Difference

We need thousands of adult learners, tutors, and advocates to write letters to their local representatives urging them to support adult literacy! Writing a letter is more effective and has more impact than sending an email! Let’s continue changing lives with literacy by writing letters and reminding our representatives how essential those resources are.  The more letters we all write, the greater chance our words will be heard. Click below to join the campaign!


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