Many of us have seen the statistic: 66 percent of Cleveland adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they struggle to read bus schedules, medicine bottles and other everyday information.
One woman working to improve adult literacy in Cleveland compared reading to breathing – those of us who can read don’t really think about it, but it is reading that sustains us and connects us to information, jobs and other opportunities. For those of us who can not read, much is out of reach.
Luckily, there is a shared desire among grassroots leaders and others working with adult literacy to connect and strengthen efforts – all with the goal of improving life in our city.
We will be spending the next year building community with those dedicated to this cause.
As part of our work, we will be taking the lead in designing a new cohort experience to include readers and non-readers who care about this issue. We will be using the emerging social science of Community Network Building to weave together these diverse community stakeholders for mutual support and action. We will be collaborating across neighborhoods and organizations, and surfacing and testing out new ways to make Cleveland a city where we all have the power to read.
Next year, we will offer $60,000 in small grants to support action projects in the field of adult literacy.
We love the energy among the leaders we’ve already meet — people like Shawn with Literacy in the H.O.O.D., Dawn with Comics at the Corner, Rhonda with Hough Reads, Barb with Lakewood Reads, Mahogani working in Slavic Village, Zulayka and Carlos at Esperanza, B.J. with Freedom Schools, Zack with Writers in Residence, Ebony with Literacy Innovations, the folks at 2-1-1 — and we’re looking forward to meeting and learning from more leaders in Cleveland and making change!