There are exceptional adult literacy agencies in metro Detroit, working to help adults improve reading and math skills. Despite their best efforts, the problem persists.
- Public and private funding for adult literacy and job training agencies is inadequate and unpredictable.
- Decreased funding means long waiting lists and unmet needs.
- Adult learners often face outside barriers making it difficult for them to stay in literacy programs.
- Adult learners have trouble seeing “a light at the end of the tunnel” to further education, job training, or employment.
With your help, Reading Works is ready to find solutions to increase the number of adult readers in our area. We recognize that large social change requires a collective approach. We are not trying to re-invent the wheel or create a new literacy program. Instead, we are leading a cohesive, community effort with one vision for change and a shared approach to solving the problem. Here is what we are doing:
Funding diverse literacy agencies to increase capacity and effectiveness
Reading Works selected 9 adult literacy agencies in the city of Detroit and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to receive funding beginning in 2012. These agencies are expected to demonstrate improvement in skill level, improve retention and assist learners meet short-term and long goals, including advancing to job training or employment, GED courses and higher education.
Establishing a network among literacy providers to share best practices
The Reading Works literacy partners are sharing methods, strategies and experiences to design “best practices” that can be replicated. Reports of this collaborative effort will be available through newsletters, conferences, and Web site updates.
Strengthening the connection between adult learners and skilled work
Reading Works will work with business and civic organizations to facilitate a path to high-quality jobs in the new economy, including mentoring, job shadowing and apprenticeships for learners, increasing their incentive to remain in literacy programs. Innovative pilot programs — within the agencies — will be explored to increase the opportunities for adult learners to join the workforce.
Linking literacy agencies with other professional and social services
Barriers, such as the lack of transportation, child care, health care, vision screening and eyeglasses, discourage learners and can prevent them from getting help. Reading Works will assist literacy providers in forming partnerships with the services needed in order to remove the barriers to learning.
Collecting data and measuring results
Reading Works and our partner literacy agencies have agreed on a shared measurement system, including how we will measure success, track our efforts towards reaching our goals, and determine what is or is not working. Reading Works is collecting data for our whole literacy network and measuring results across the community to make sure that, as a collective, we stay on track and hold each other accountable.
Raising public awareness
The Reading Works media partners, including the Detroit Free Press, The Michigan Chronicle, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), WDET-FM (101.9), Clear Channel Radio Detroit, and Detroit Public Television, are shining a spotlight on the problem, galvanizing the community and encouraging public policy that supports adult literacy initiatives.