NSC partner Literacy Cooperative celebrates International Literacy Day

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, September 16, 2015

Adult education is taking center stage this month. In addition to the upcoming Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 21-26), last week saw the observance of International Literacy Day on September 8.

Numerous events were held around the United States. National Skills Coalition partner  Bob Paponetti, executive director of The Literacy Cooperative, shared some highlights from the International Literacy Day celebration in Cleveland, Ohio.

The day began with an editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that highlighted sobering statistics from the OECD "Time for the U.S. to Reskill?" report. As previously highlighted on NSC’s Skills Blog, there are a stunning 36 million American adults who need foundational skills in subjects such as English language, reading, and mathematics.

The Plain Dealer editorial highlighted literacy efforts underway in Cleveland and concluded with a call for better integration between adult education and job training programs:

[L]ocal job-training and literacy providers must do a better job of creating joint programs to increase people's skills.

Bob Paponetti, executive director of the Literacy Cooperative, says literacy-improvement classes and job training are "too fragmented" locally, discouraging people who might aspire to work in a machine shop by shuttling them off to literacy classes that don't focus on their interest.

Fixing that situation by creating more coordination between programs should be a high priority. It's worth a try.

Also that morning, the radio show "The Sound of Ideas" took up the topic of literacy, and interviewed several local guests.

At lunchtime, the Literacy Cooperative and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish brought together 125 key civic leaders for a literacy-focused event. Budish’s remarks focused on the importance of addressing low literacy, especially as a path to better job opportunities.

The event’s featured speaker was Jeff Conyers, Executive Director of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, who highlighted his organization’s work with families and children.

Throughout the day, social media participation was high. More than 400 Clevelanders – including basketball legend LeBron James — posted pictures of themselves reading, tweeting, and sharing important information about literacy. The hashtag even trended locally.

Our thanks to Bob and The Literacy Cooperative for sharing this update. Watch for more from NSC on adult education next week!

Photo credit: International Literacy Day