ClotildePerezBodeDedeckerThe Right to Literacy

By: Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker In: Public Policy

24 Sep 2010

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

3 Responses to The Right to Literacy

mary surbeck

September 27th, 2010 at 10:09 am

To open the door for all citizens to employment, healthy families and civic participation, is to create pathways to a strong and secure nation. Our American foundation is built upon the opportunity for every individual to attain and to transmit knowledge. Be heard in a positive way, join the thousands who are nourishing this effort. Speak to and write to the leaders in your community and in Congress asking them to support literacy initiatives and legislation. To quote one of the key drivers of the “Right to Literacy” campaign, “If there is a way out of poverty, literacy is it.”

Margaret Doughty

September 28th, 2010 at 8:24 am

I was in DC with the leaders of the Right to Literacy Campaign last week and was very impressed by the response of our legislators who recognise that literacy is the foundation for personal success as well as community economic prosperity. The Literacy Funders Network members are doing a great job in promoting improved literacy as a key to community change and educational collaboration across all the various silos. Many members of the network are supporting literacy coalitions as the tool for local coordination. By the way, I met a wonderful lady from South Carolina while in DC. She told me she was from Columbia and asked if I had been there. I told her I had not had that pleasure but I knew that the Right to Literacy Scroll had been in her community. She beamed, “I know,” she said. “I have signed that scroll and so have all my colleagues in the school district! We sent a message to the President that literacy is important.”

Janet Shing

October 13th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

In Monterey County, California, we observed that the inability to read limits adults from accessing social services and healthcare, and from participating in civic life. Community Foundation for Monterey County launched a five-year, multi-million dollar, collaborative funding effort to address adult literacy. Thousands more are now on their education path but so many more need help. We encourage other community foundations to join us in advocating for policies that support basic literacy skills.

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