The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that about 31,120 adults in the Virginia Peninsula Area were either purely or functionally illiterate. That’s more than 3 times the seating capacity of the Hampton Coliseum! Many of these adults come to Peninsula READS with goals to get their high school diploma, enter employment, or even get a job promotion. However, most of them often find every-day tasks to be nearly impossible. Imagine being unable to…
- Read street signs,
- Fill out a job application,
- Help your child with their homework,
- Read your child’s report card,
- Read prescription labels,
- Read food labels at the grocery store to make better and healthier decisions,
- Or see your doctor without needing someone there to read the paperwork for you.
These are all things most adults take for granted, but they represent just some of the goals that adults bravely come seeking our help to achieve.
Impact on Families and Communities
Low-level literacy affects not just individuals, but families and communities as well. It has been linked to poverty, low self-esteem, lack of seeking preventative healthcare, higher crime rates, higher unemployment rates, decreased level of community involvement, intergenerational illiteracy, and much more. Here are just some of the statistics provided by the VAACE Adult Education Fact Sheet 2010:
- 43% of adults with very low literacy live in poverty.
- 70% of adult welfare recipients have lower-level literacy skills.
- The United States could save between $7.9 and $10.8 billion annually by improving educational attainment among all recipients of Temporary Assistance of Needy Families, food stamps, and housing assistance.
- Working-age residents with college degrees are 37% more likely to participate in the workforce than those with less than a high school diploma.
- 297,660 foreign-born Virginia residents speak English “less than very well”.
- Children are 5 times more likely to drop out of high school if their parents are unemployed and lack a high school diploma.