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 — called an Innovation Team — 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.

Apply to join us

If you’re interested in joining, fill out this application, call 216-264-9858 or watch the video above.

Next year, we will offer $60,000 in small grants of up to $5,000 each 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!

If you care about adult literacy and are ready to take action, you can also reach out to Lila or Lj.

Neighbor Up for Health

Neighbor Up members passionate about the health of their neighborhoods came together around the question, “What’s working when it comes to health in the communities of Greater University Circle?”

Neighbor Up's Neal Hodges and Dr. Charles Modlin of the Cleveland Clinic.

Neighbor Up’s Neal Hodges with Dr. Charles Modlin of the Cleveland Clinic. Neal observed a kidney transplant.

They started having conversations last year with neighbors, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, as well as city leaders.

This year they decided to focus on having a positive impact in the areas of infant mortality and lead abatement. Greater University Circle neighborhoods have infant mortality rates among African-American babies that rival those of third world countries. And lead paint in old homes can cause learning disabilities and other issues in children.

Want to know more? Contact Neighbor Up member Neal Hodges.