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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Literacy For All (LFA)?

  • LFA is an initiative of the Community Foundation of Atlanta and a campaign dedicated to breaking the cycle of multi-generational low literacy.
  • Our mission is to serve as the connector and convener of the Georgia literacy community—linking donors to community partners, and partners to one another—to innovate, champion and fund multi-generational literacy opportunities and spark transformative policy that benefits people of all ages.
  • Our vision: A Georgia where every person is literate.

Why was your initiative formed?

  • Every important social issue is impacted by low literacy. When individuals learn how to read, write, do basic math, and use computers, they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep sustainable employment, and ultimately change their lives.18
  • LFA realized the severe implications of low literacy and illiteracy for families and communities, the enormous demands it places on government and its impact on business, culture and education.
  • According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 42 million adult Americans can't read; 50 million can recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level; one out of every four teenagers drops out of high school, and of those who graduate, one out of every four has the equivalent or less of an eighth grade education.5
  • According to current estimates, the number of functionally illiterate adults is increasing by approximately two and one quarter million persons each year. This number includes nearly one million young people who drop out of high school before graduation.
  • More than half of Fortune 500 companies have become educators of last resort, with the cost of remedial employee training in the three R's reaching more than 300 million dollars a year.5
  • One national estimate places the annual cost of welfare programs and unemployment compensation due to illiteracy at six billion dollars. An additional 237 billion dollars a year in unrealized earnings is forfeited by persons who lack basic reading skills, according to Literacy Volunteers of America.5

Why is literacy important?

  • Improving literacy outcomes for families and multi-generational communities has a direct impact on business, government, education, culture and family life.
  • Studies show that for the United States to remain globally competitive we need 60-percent of our population to obtain a post-secondary degree by 2025.2 To achieve this, we must act now to give teachers, parents, families and caregivers the tools and motivation to build language, vocabulary and comprehension skills in young children, improving the literacy rate in Georgia and across the country.3
  • In Georgia, the unemployment rate for people with less than a high school diploma is 15%.3 The median annual income for a high school dropout is less than half of that of someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher.2
  • Military service is off the table for those with insufficient literacy skills; 75% of 17-24 year olds in this country can’t meet minimum requirements for military service.3
  • Georgia adults with low literacy earn 10K less than that of adults with a high school diploma.16
  • Adults with low literacy cost Georgia 2.3 billion in social services and lost revenue annually.16

Who benefits from the work of LFA and other initiatives focused on improving literacy?

  • Families in poverty, children unlikely to succeed in our educational system, adults reading skills for employment or to increase their educational attainment.
  • Schools, communities and the economic health of the nation are beneficiaries of strong family literacy initiatives.14
  • Independent research from cities and rural communities throughout the nation prove that a family literacy solution may be the best way to impact multiple generations.14

What can policy makers do?

During these tough economic times, family literacy has never been more important or in a better position to provide families, schools and communities with the tools they need to be successful in a 21st century workforce. The National Coalition for Literacy suggests the following actions for local, state and federal policy-makers:

  • Adopt family literacy strategies as the proven method for true parental engagement. Across the nation, there is an increased emphasis on parental engagement and the role that parents must play. However, schools are struggling with how to get parents with less than proficient language and literacy skills to join them as partners in their children’s education. Family literacy is a model that meaningfully engages these parents; it’s been successfully evolving and innovating for more than 20 years.
  • Integrate the provision of family literacy services more explicitly in the existing WIA, Title II system. Family literacy prepares the most vulnerable families for self-sufficiency, by providing wrap-around supports and services that adults need to access ABE, ESL or workplace literacy services.
  • Make family literacy a component of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It is a necessity for Title 1 families. Increasing funds for parent engagement in ESEA is important, but the parent engagement activities and services schools provide must be relevant and meaningful for parents and families. Advocate for intensive family literacy services to help parents become full partners in the education of their children and to assist children in reaching their full potential as learners. Through these services, parents will be truly equipped and empowered to influence student achievement.
  • Integrate family literacy beyond K-12. Family literacy is a strong influencer and proven partner for reaching the nation’s ambitious goals for college completion across multiple generations.14

What is the literacy rate in the Georgia and the U.S.?

  • In Georgia, 1 in 6 adults are low literate.16 One million in Georgia.
  • According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can't read. That's 14 percent of the population. Twenty-one percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read.

Does the adult literacy rate impact our state’s ability to improve 3rd grade reading scores?

  • Yes. Low literacy parents are unable to read to their children. 
  • Sixty-five percent of Georgia’s 3rd graders lack the necessary vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. This causes a ripple effect that dramatically impacts the future of our state and nation.3
  • Nearly three-quarters of children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers throughout high school.1
  • These children are more likely to drop out of school and struggle to find self-sustaining employment.

What are some of the terms used to describe your work?

  • Literacy
    The ability to read, view, write, design, speak and listen in a way that allows you to communicate effectively.11
  • Adult Literacy Index
    The Adult Literacy Index (ALI) is a statistical measure used to determine how many adults can read and write in a certain area or nation. Adult literacy is one of the factors in measuring the Human Development Index (HDI) of each nation, along with life expectancy, education, and standard of living.
  • Family Literacy
    Family literacy is a term used to describe parents and children - or more broadly - adults and children - learning together. The ethnic, racial, and cultural heritages of families are reflected in the literacy activities they in which they engage.4
  • Family Literacy Services
    Services that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make sustainable changes in a family, and that integrate all of the following activities:
    - Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children.
    - Training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.
    - Parent literacy that leads to economic self-sufficiency.
    - An age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.15
  • Illiteracy
    The quality or condition of being unable to read or write.6
  • Functional Illiterate
    Persons who can read and possibly write simple sentences with a limited vocabulary, but cannot read or write well enough to deal with the everyday requirements of life in their own society.
  • Low Literacy
    Low Literacy or Limited Literacy: An inability to read or write well enough to perform necessary tasks in society or on the job.8
  • Semi-literate
    Unable to read or write with ease or fluency; poorly educated.9
  • Health Illiteracy
    Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.10
  • Two-Generational Approach
    Focuses on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of both vulnerable children and their parents together.12
  • Family Service Learning
    Families learning and achieving together and mentoring each other.13
  • PACT Time
    Parent and Child Together Time – interactive time between parents and children.15
  • Numeracy
    - Complements literacy and is sometimes called 'mathematical literacy'. Both skills are needed in order to function fully in modern life.
    - Being numerate means being able to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts and to apply these in a range of contexts and to solve a variety of problems.17

 

References

  1. https://nces.ed.gov/naal/fr_definition.asp
  2. Annie E. Casey Foundation
  3. https://www.readrightfromthestart.org/low-literacy-rates-directly-impact-georgias-future/
  4. http://literacy.kent.edu/familyliteracy/whatisit.html
  5. http://www.tarrantnet.org/read2win/what-is-illiteracy/
  6. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-illiteracy-1691146
  7. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/aliterate
  8. http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/culture/intro_glossary.html
  9. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/semi-literate
  10. https://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm
  11. http://www.3plearning.com/literacy-important/
  12. http://ascend.aspeninstitute.org/pages/the-two-generation-approach
  13. http://www.familieslearning.org/about-us/2gen.html
  14. http://national-coalition-literacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FamilyLiteracyFactSheetfromNCFL.pdf
  15. Stronger Families. Stronger Communities. National Center  for Families Learning
  16. 2017 Deloitte Study for LFA
  17. https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/what-numeracy
  18. Proliteracy - https://proliteracy.org/Resources/Adult-Literacy-Facts

 

I would like to improve my literacy skills.  What can I do?

  • LFA partners with several organizations working to improve adult and family literacy.
  • Click here for information on how you can get help in the metro Atlanta area https://literacyaction.org/