We’ve been honored to spend the past year working in community with people dedicated to improving literacy in our city. Collaborating across neighborhoods and organizations, we hosted an Adult Literacy Innovation Team in 2020.
Folks worked in small groups and focused on different topic areas to test out new ways to make Cleveland a city where we all have the power to read. Everyone on the team brought so much passion and commitment to thinking and acting in new ways when it comes to improving adult literacy in our city.
We want to thank all the team members for dedicating themselves to the work!
Many of us have seen the statistic: 66 percent of Cleveland adults are low literate, and 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 used the emerging social science of Community Network Building (on which Neighbor Up is based) to weave together diverse community stakeholders for mutual support and action.
Adult Literacy Innovation Team members
- Amy Wu is a Neighbor Up member who is committed to connecting people and has worked as a tutor with adult students.
- Bonnie Entler is with Seeds of Literacy, a nonprofit organization that provides free GED®, and HiSET® preparation and basic education to adults in the Cleveland area.
- Brittinie “BJ” Jermon is a Neighbor Up member with a passion for inspiring students, who worked with Freedom Schools and now works at Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
- Carlos Alvarado teaches adult learners at Esperanza, a nonprofit with the mission of improving the academic achievement of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland by supporting students to graduate high school and promoting post-secondary educational attainment.
- Carmine Stewart is dedicated to thinking about improving adult literacy in new ways. She works at Seeds of Literacy.
- Curtis Freed is Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient who thinks innovatively about solving community issues and received a GED® while incarcerated.
- Curtis “Skip” Hill is a Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient who mentors young men helping them stay in school and graduate.
- Cynthia Foster is a grandparent involved in improving literacy in Slavic Village.
- Donnell Collins is a John Hay High School and John Carroll University graduate who has worked with Freedom Schools.
- Gwen Garth is an artist and Neighbor Up member, who was trained as a literacy tutor and taught incarcerated adults to read.
- Holly Roe is a Neighbor Up Action Grant recipient whose project The LD Edge Network is the only nonprofit in Cleveland that helps adults get diagnosed with learning disabilities.
- Jennifer Adjua Cline is a poet who works with creative writing and literacy.
- Mahogani Graves works with P-16 in Slavic Village, a network of people who believe youth development is a direct path to healthy, safe communities for everyone.
- Mansa L. Bey believes in the power of words to make change. He teaches creative writing and personal narrative.
- Marva Walton is a parent who is involved with P-16 in Slavic Village.
- Rhonda Crowder is a journalist and literacy advocate who created Hough Reads, A Little Free Library Neighborhood initiative that hosts neighborhood literacy-based events in Hough.
- Sharon Jefferson is the branch manager at the Glenville branch of Cleveland Public Library.
- Terry Echols is the assistant director of Adult Education Services at the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
- Toni Johnson works at the Educational Opportunity Center at Tri-C, and is a member of the Literacy Cooperative’s Learning Network.
- Tonya Briggs is the library branch manager at the Addison branch of Cleveland Public Library.
We loved the energy among the leaders we met who are working to strengthen literacy in our city! Stay tuned for grant funding specifically for adult literacy projects.