Giving Tuesday is a global movement held each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to inspire people to give.
This year, Giving Tuesday will be held on November 28. This effort harnesses the collective power of nonprofits, businesses and corporations, families, and individuals to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. On Giving Tuesday people are encouraged to improve their local communities, give back to the charities and causes they celebrate, and help create a better world. Using the power of social media, Giving Tuesday creates a movement dedicated to giving around the world.
There are 36 million reasons—one for every adult in the U.S. that cannot read, write, or do math above a third-grade level—to join ProLiteracy this Giving Tuesday.
Low literacy is a national crisis that affects each and every one of us in every facet of life, although not everyone realizes this.
The Facts on the Adult Literacy Crisis
It is critical to be aware of and understand the issues surrounding low adult literacy so we can take action and advocate for change. These facts can help you make the case for adult literacy.
- Every year, one in six young adults—more than 1.2 million—drop out of high school.
- Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. That’s the total population of Louisiana and South Carolina combined.
- Public funding for adult education and English language instruction declined by 17 percent from 2002 to 2012 when adjusted for inflation.
- There are 160,000 people in the United States on waiting lists for adult education.
- Nearly 30 percent of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential.
- Single mothers with a high school credential are 24 percent less likely to be on welfare than those without a high school credential.
- Low literacy costs the U.S. between $7.9 and $10.8 billion in welfare, food stamps, and public housing.
- About 50 percent of the 2 million immigrants that come to the U.S. each year lack a high school education and proficient English language skills. This severely limits their access to employment, college, and citizenship and makes them more vulnerable to living in poverty.
- 1.5 million people at the lowest literacy levels are incarcerated. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of the city of Philadelphia.
- Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Ninety-five percent of inmates are reintegrated into our communities.
- Research shows that inmates who are educated are 43 percent less likely to return to prison.
- Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.
- Children of parents who had not completed high school scored lower in vocabulary assessments than children of parents with a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Parents with a high school diploma or equivalency are 11 percent more likely to assist their children with homework.
- A mother’s reading level is the greatest factor in her children’s academic success.
- Each year, American employers spend more than $125.9 billion on training, including remedial reading, writing, and math.
- Each person who leaves high school early costs the U.S. economy about $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity over his or her lifetime.
- If half of those who left school in the class of 2008 had graduated, there would be an additional $4.1 billion in earnings, $2.8 billion in spending, and $1.1 billion in investments. The additional spending and investments would have created 30,000 new jobs.
- Among people with low levels of financial literacy, 29 percent of men, and 32 percent of women are likely to engage in problematic credit card behavior.
- Annually, low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
- There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings, and between higher educational scores and higher earnings. Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels.
- Adults with low health literacy go to the emergency room more often than more educated adults.
- Adults that don’t understand healthcare instructions are less likely to get flu vaccines, more likely to forgo mammograms, and are more likely to suffer from heart failure.
- The estimated annual cost of low health literacy in the U.S. is between $106 billion and $238 billion.
We may not be able to change these facts over night, but we can work together to reach out to the 36 million adults who need our help.
On Giving Tuesday, we will be running our Just One Gift campaign centered around ProLiteracy’s National Book Fund®, which provides underfunded literacy programs with much needed instructional materials and resources. To learn more about this year’s ProLiteracy Giving Tuesday campaign, visit our gift catalog. Last year, we raised $7,225 on Giving Tuesday. This year, our goal is to raise $15,000 to help improve adult literacy across the country.
Through the National Book Fund, we have helped hundreds of thousands of individuals improve their literacy skills. Support on Giving Tuesday will continue to provide educational materials to programs nationwide to help teach adults to read and get on the right track to bright and successful futures.
At the 2017 ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Literacy in September, we had the opportunity to interview some adult learners and literacy practitioners and capture their stories on video. We are using our Just One Gift campaign to share their stories and highlight the life-changing impact of projects like the National Book Fund.
Thank you for supporting adult literacy.
1. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
2. The National Institute for Literacy
3. American Journal of Public Health
4. National Council for Adult Learning (NCAL)
5. National Center for Education Statistics,
6. Center for Immigration Studies, National Commission on Adult Literacy
7. U.S. Department of Justice, Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
8. ProLiteracy: Member Statistical Report