When we think of education, we often tend to think of children, those who are still learning the foundational blocks of knowledge that allow us to understand and navigate the complex world around us. But often overlooked are adult students who, for various reasons, lack necessary literacy skills.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an estimated 43% of adults aged 16 years and older read at or below the basic level, meaning their skills are limited to understanding short, simple texts and one-step math problems. These adults often struggle to find employment, help their children with school work and even understand basic instructions such as those on a bottle of medication. Literacy isn’t just the ability to read but the ability to process information and solve problems – a crucial skill in managing day-to-day conflicts – which is why it is so important that these adults receive this essential education.
One such program is Literacy CNY, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing adults in Central New York with literacy tools and skills needed to be productive and engaged community members. However, Literacy CNY was forced to suspend operations after the state cut $100,000 in funding due to the financial crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now, as the effects of the pandemic on the state’s economy are beginning to lessen, Literacy CNY has begun reopening to continue their mission of educating members of the Central New York community. One of its big focuses is on the “Stop Reading for 5 Minutes” campaign to highlight the importance of literacy in everyday life. The challenge asks participants to see if they can go 5 minutes without reading. I encourage everyone to try the challenge and understand how foundational literacy is to navigating life. Local businesses can also participate in the challenge by hanging “Stop! That’s Reading!” clingforms on site, along with promoting the campaign on company social media platforms. For more information about how businesses can promote the campaign internally and encourage employee participation, visit literacynewyork.org/stop-reading-challenge-info.
Before the pandemic, Literacy CNY trained volunteers who helped more than 400 adult students learn to read each year. As they begin the process of reopening, they are once again looking for volunteers. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer, you can register at literacycny.org and complete the training online. As always, if you have questions about this or any other issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 315-452-1115 or StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.