“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Let me ask you, do you care about the future of Marion County? It’s a pointed question I know. Of course you do. But what are you doing to truly impact that future? I’m asking you, today, to take a step forward and care about that future in a more effective and direct manner, by supporting the Marion County Literacy Council.
The Literacy Council is focused on providing our community’s adults with the resources they need to improve their literacy skills. It is estimated that 19% of the adults in Marion County are unable to read above a 5th-grade level, leaving many feeling hopeless, jobless or in underpaid jobs, and dependent on social services to live. Perhaps most heartbreaking is the long-term effect their low literacy has on their children. Low literacy becomes intergenerational: the strongest indicator of a child’s success in school is their mother’s level of education. You can be the difference for these families.
If you think adult illiteracy and low education doesn’t affect you, think again. Low literate adults struggle to find employment, struggle to help their children with homework, struggle to understand a bus schedule, instructions on a bottle of medication, and nutritional information on a package of food. This is because literacy means not only the ability to read, but the ability to read well, to process information and solve problems. To give a brief example, this letter is nearly impossible for many of our students to read or most importantly understand. Their skills are limited to understanding short, simple texts, and one-step math problems.
The plight of low literacy stretches beyond individual families and impacts us all.
- Low literacy costs American businesses and taxpayers more than $225 billion annually through lost wages, unemployment, welfare, and other government assistance. 34.1% of job applicants lack the basic literacy skills needed to get the job for which they apply.
- Low literacy adds $230 billion to the annual cost of delivering healthcare in the United States.
- There’s a link between low literacy and crime. 75% percent of adults incarcerated in state prisons lack a high school diploma or have low literacy skills. Marion County, according to the Public Policy Institute, has the highest incarceration rate in the state.
- Our local economy needs a prepared, educated workforce to draw new businesses to our area and to keep pace with new technology.
- Individuals with low literacy are less likely to vote or participate in civic activities.
- Literacy Council – What We Do! Our students want a better life for themselves and their families. Coming to the Literacy Council is the way they will achieve that goal. We provide programming to over 400 students a year with one-on-one tutoring and small group classes. We offer adult programming throughout the county in the following areas:
- GED preparation
- Literacy improvement in math, writing and reading
- Learning English as a second language
- Citizenship classes
- Tutoring for job placement or certificate programs
- Computer literacy
- Tutoring at the surrounding correctional institutions
- Beginning in January we will be working at two local public elementary schools with parents to improve their English… more schools will be added throughout the year
- Workplace literacy
- Work with Probation Officers to decrease recidivism of offenders through education
- Agency collaboration to case manage a client out of low economic circumstances
WE NEED YOU!!!
As you can see, a community with high illiteracy rates is a community in need. If you want to impact Marion County, you have to impact it at the most basic level: Education. To allow us to help our students, we need several things to be in place: a strong tutor force, strong tutor training, accurate assessments, the right books and materials for the specific needs of individual students, safe and public work stations, and of course community support. Abuse rates, substance abuse issues, crime rates, government assistance dependency and workforce all are impacted when you tackle the issue of adult literacy. By donating to the Literacy Council you are not only changing the lives of our students, but you are changing Marion County. You are creating jobs, a better life, and a better community.
The Literacy Council needs you. Our students need you.
We are a small organization, with only two paid staff members, but we currently host more than 70 volunteer tutors and three work-study students sponsored by Rasmussen College. We are only sustained by your dollars, a few small fundraisers, and a small grant by United Way. Dollars continue to decrease but we have more students walking in our doors and costs such as materials, books, electric and insurance increase.
While this year has been a huge success for so many in our community, our organization has been challenged. Please help us continue our work and positively impact lives in Marion County.
As we celebrate this time of giving and rebirth in the coming weeks, we hope you will consider making the Literacy Council part of your end-of-year plans and your charity of choice for 2018. For one student, it generally cost around $400 a year to help them reach their goals. There are several ways you can make your impact:
- A monthly donation on the form included. Your credit card will be charged the 15th of each month.
- One Time Gift using a check or credit card- form included (or you can call me at the office).
- Visit our website, www.marionliteracy.org, click on the PayPal link and give a donation and/or sign up for a recurring donation.
- Give to the Tree of Knowledge, which is located in our lobby: $250 for a leaf, $500 for an apple, or $1000 for a horse. Room sponsorships are also available.
- Sponsor one of our events: Kiss the Horse, Scrabble, Festival of Reading, and Citizen of the Year.
- Sponsor a specific part of our organization such as: school supplies, books, website and monthly newsletter starting in January 2018. Please contact me with how to do that.
There are so many wonderful organizations in our community, but in the end we help someone achieve the greatest of life’s gifts… self-sufficiency. A person, who previously could not get a job, because they didn’t understand the job application or didn’t have a diploma, now has the skills to apply and retain employment. They will be able to put food on their own table, provide for their families, and in turn strengthen our economy and Marion County. They will be able to make informed health decisions and most important to many, they will now have the power to increase their child’s success in the future, breaking the cycle of low literacy, low education and poverty.
Thank you for believing in our mission and for impacting our organization in such a huge way! As always, please come by our office for a visit and if you or anyone in your circle have a passion for helping someone improve their literacy – we would love to have you.