Who We Are & Why Our Work Matters
Since 1968, Peninsula READS has been serving the Hampton Roads area, working to address a pressing issue that has wide and varied impacts on our community: low-level literacy. Each year, Peninsula READS serves about 250 adults, working one-on-one with them to grow crucial and necessary skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and computer literacy, as well as offering small group English lessons for speakers of other languages. But the results of these efforts extend far beyond the people who physically enter the Peninsula READS office; when an adult gains literacy skill, it benefits themselves, their families, and the community as a whole.
According to the National Center for Education, 43 percent of adults age 16 and older read at or below the basic level. What’s more, the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that about 31,120 adults in the Virginia Peninsula Area alone were either purely or functionally illiterate — roughly 6 percent of the total population. This lack of literacy skills has wide reaching effects on the lives of these adults in our community. They struggle to find employment, to understand and control their health and health care, to help their children with homework, and get by in their daily lives. When you support Peninsula READS, you help to improve the lives of your neighbors beyond just helping them read a book.
Many of the adults seeking literacy education are working toward earning their GED® or other high school equivalency. Having a high school credential provides adults with a larger job pool. And on a more basic level, learners without functional print or computer literacy may be unable to locate and read — much less complete — job applications for the positions they seek. By empowering them to find and maintain employment, Peninsula READS and other adult education organizations are helping people to provide for their families, gain self-confidence, and strengthen the economy.
There is a strong correlation between literacy and health. A 2006 report by the U.S. Department of Education found that adults who self-reported the worst health also had the most limited literacy, numeracy, and health literacy skills. Conversely, improved literacy results in more informed health decisions regarding nutrition and preventative care. Without the ability to read nutrition labels, for example, learners have a harder time making informed decision. Literacy — and, by extension, health literacy — is crucial to the wellbeing of our community.
Their Children’s Academic Success
Alongside working with these learners to improve their reading and math skills, the services provided by Peninsula READS can also improve the success of their children. A 2010 study funded
by the National Institutes of Health found that mothers’ reading skills are the most significant factor
when it comes to their children’s future academic success — more so than school location or socioeconomic status. Helping an adult to gain or improve their literacy skills is an investment in their child’s future, as well as their own. The success of these children, in turn, could effectively break the cycle of low literacy and the poverty and poor health that come with it.
Their Daily Lives
Low literacy leads to a number of smaller struggles that occur throughout learner’s daily lives. Imagine trying to make your way through life unable to read street signs, write emails, or understand your bills. These struggles make up the reality for the lives of adults across the United States.
The wide-reaching effects of low adult literacy are clear. But the good news is, the positive impacts of adult education are just as vast. By donating to Peninsula READS or becoming a tutor, you can help contribute to that positive impact in your community.