The Power of Literacy: Preventing Poverty, Dropouts, Crime

Did you know:
    • 60% of America’s prison inmates are functionally illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.
    • Approximately 50% of the nation’s unemployed youth age 16-21 are functionally illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs.
    • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.1

By 2020, it’s predicted that:

      •  75% of jobs will require some form of higher education.2

Students who have struggled with reading, but who go on to graduate from high school and enter college, are still not in the clear. Taking a remedial college reading course is the number one predictor that a student will drop out. Only 17 percent of students who take a remedial reading class at the college level earn a Bachelor’s degree within eight years, compared to 58 percent of students who graduate without taking any remedial classes.3

Remedial classes are an answer for some students, but for many they are not enough. Literacy is a lifetime achievement, not a course topic. Research shows language and literacy development starts from birth. Students who aren’t exposed to books, stories, and spoken language in their early years are at a significant learning disadvantage before they even enter school. The Zero to Three Organization shares the following early literacy indicators on their website:

  • Book handling behaviors: Flipping pages or chewing on books.
  • Looking and recognizing: Interacting with a book.
  • Pictures and story comprehension: Vocalizing an understanding of the book.
  • Story-reading behaviors:  Showing an understanding of reading, like running a finger along the words read in a book.4

We have the knowledge to prevent illiteracy and break the poverty cycle, now we need to do it. This summer, LifeBound will be offering summer learning opportunities to low-income students to ensure they get the same learning experiences as their more affluent peers. Let’s work to get out of triage mode and get into prevention mode. How can you help support literacy?

1 11 Facts About Literacy in America,
2 The Future of Jobs and Careers,
3 Paying Double: Inadequate High Schools and
Community College Remediation
4 Earl Literacy,

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