Thirty million adults in the U.S. have limited literacy skills, which costs our economy roughly $60 billion each year in lost productivity. The Literacy Funders Network assisted in the creation of the Right to Literacy Scroll to support key resolutions. The scroll arrived in Washington, D.C. on September 22, 2010.
At the National Community Literacy Conference in Buffalo, N.Y., on June 13, 2009, delegates created resolutions to support legislation and policy aimed at increasing literacy levels across rural and urban America. They created a scroll that has traveled the country and been signed by tens of thousands of supporters at grassroots rallies, community picnics, library events, city halls, literacy conferences, and town hall meetings. Conference delegates seek to work with governmental systems to change, improve, and expand literacy services that enable all Americans from infants to seniors to meet their highest potential.
Supporters include the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Council on Foundations, National Center for Family Literacy, ProLiteracy, Avance, The National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, WE LEARN, the Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Vocational Education, and many other national organizations. The oldest scroll signer is Dorothy Inghram, who is 104-years-old and the first African American school administrator in San Bernardino, California. The youngest is Baby Shulere, a three- month-old who signed with a thumb print in Columbia, South Carolina.
On September 22, the scroll was accepted by legislative leaders on the steps of the Capitol. In addition, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier of the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education was briefed on the effort. This first phase of the campaign was designed to raise awareness, and we look forward to moving into the next phase, which will focus on policy change that is currently being developed with UNESCO and supporting the International Decade of Literacy.
In addition to delivering the scroll, the Literacy Funders Network is calling upon Congress and the Obama Administration to support legislative and policy initiatives that promote basic literacy skills for all Americans to support good citizenship, economic recovery, healthy families, and a globally competitive, skilled workforce.
Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker is president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and president of the Literacy Funders Network