Making a Difference

Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 1997
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According to the government's National Literacy Survey, 25 million adults in the United States do not know how to read. In fact, the United Nations reports that the U.S. Ranks 49th among 156 United Nations member countries in comparing the percentage rate of literacy to the country's population.

In a seven nation comparative study, the National Center for Education found that the "United States has a greater concentration of adults at both the highest and lowest levels of literacy." Only Poland ranks lower in overall literacy.

"Literacy is indispensable to attaining many of the most basic goals for humanity's well-being -- healthier babies, longer lives, greater productivity, stronger economies, and stable societies. It is a tragedy that in America today, when we live and work in the vanguard of the information age, millions of our fellow citizens cannot read, and millions more read below the skill level necessary to function successfully in our society . . . Building a literate world is a vital challenge that none of us can ignore." President Bill Clinton

These nonprofit organizations are trying to reverse the statistics. Here are some ways you can help make a difference.

  • Helping your Child Learn to Read is provided by the US Department of Education and has activities for children from infancy through age 10.

  • Tom Eland's Internet Directory of Literacy and Adult Education Resources is a treasure-trove of information about more than 150 Internet sites about literacy.

  • Laubach Literacy of Syracuse, NY has been providing literacy help for 65 years. The nonprofit educational corporation attempts to help adults improve "their lives and their communities by learning reading, writing, math and problem-solving skills."

  • The Literacy AmeriCorps program has a goal of improving the functional skills of adult learners in Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Through strong community partnerships, the national service program is attempting to provide "a model of literacy service delivery for other cities to replicate."

  • Literacy Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit educational organization, operated by professionals, which delivers tutoring services through a net work of more than 50,000 volunteers nationwide. Visit this site to find out how you can become involved in this worthwhile endeavor.

  • SCCOE Educational Development Center -- Reading Recovery is an early intervention program designed by Marie Clay to assist children in first grade who are having difficulty learning to read and write. This page will link you to more information.

  • SCCOE--EDC, Literacy Alliance for the South Bay In the six counties the Literacy Alliance servce- Alameda, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Benito, and santa Cruz -- there is a growing demand for literacy services, particularly English as a Second Language, workplace literacy, youth-at-risk, and the homeless. The Literacy Alliance is trying to address these unmet need through its services. Their page will take you to opportunities for becoming a literacy volunteer.

  • Special Needs Education Network (SNE) provides Internet services specific to parents, teachers, schools, and other professionals, individuals, groups, and organizations involved in the education of students with special needs.

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  • Madeleine L'Engle Reflects on Her Writing and Faith
  • Some Reading Suggestions on The Subject of Literacy

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