Frequently Asked Questions
How did the idea of The Literacy Cooperative get started?
Planning for The Literacy Cooperative began in 2004, led by staff from The Cleveland,
The George Gund and Martha Holden Jennings Foundations. A broad spectrum of the community
gathered to seek creative and new solutions to the problem of low literacy and its implications.
Despite providers best efforts, literacy levels in Cuyahoga County have gone unchanged for more
than 10 years, and the foundations felt the need to take a more proactive role in addressing this
Over the course of 14 months, the effort brought together more than 300 individuals representing 250
organizations. Collectively, the group came to a consensus on two key recommendations - develop an
action plan and create a collaborative organization to carry out the plan. The collaborative
organization ultimately became The Literacy Cooperative.Back to Top
What are literacy rates in Cuyahoga County?
Far too many Greater Cleveland residents have literacy below acceptable levels. In Cuyahoga County:
- One adult out of two has literacy skills below the minimum standard — a statistic unchanged since 1990
- One of every 14 young adults age 16-19 is not attending school and not working, critical components to prepare self-sufficient adults
- Three of every five public schools are not meeting the state minimum requirement for fourth grade reading proficiency
More information on literacy statistics can be found in the Advancing Literacy in Greater Cleveland report or by clicking here
Back to Top
Why are literacy skills important to the community?
Literacy skills affect parent-child interaction, school performance, graduation rates, employment opportunities,
earnings and the quality of life in our communities. Today, people require more sophisticated skills than ever
before to navigate health and financial systems, cope with advanced technology and meet the demands of more
Strong literacy skills are necessary to help people reach their potential in their roles as family members,
employees and citizens. Literacy is fundamental to active citizenship and full participation in a democratic
Equally important, a literate workforce attracts and retains enterprises that offer jobs with benefits and
higher wages, thereby creating a stronger economy for Greater Cleveland. Nationally, low literacy skills
cost businesses and taxpayers $20 billion in lost wages, profits and productivity annually. Greater
Cleveland cannot afford the costs that accompany low literacy.Back to Top
Have other cities adopted a collaborative method to tackling literacy issues?
Several cities are taking a collaborative approach to tackling the low literacy levels. Some include Hartford,
Houston, Los Angeles and New Orleans.Back to Top
Do service providers report to The Literacy Cooperative?
The Literacy Cooperative will support literacy providers in a variety of ways, but there is no expectation
of a reporting relationship.Back to Top
Is The Literacy Cooperative taking over any duties of the providers?
The Literacy Cooperative is not a direct service provider; rather, it seeks to strengthen direct
service providers and the system that supports them. The Cooperative will support literacy providers
in a variety of ways, but will not take over their duties.Back to Top
For how many years will the three foundations provide funding for The Literacy Cooperative?
The staff and boards of directors at the three foundations understand that low literacy is a serious
and persistent problem in Greater Cleveland. The foundations are open to providing ongoing support
assuming The Literacy Cooperative can demonstrate its effectiveness in addressing the problem in a
systematic way.Back to Top
I provide literacy services to the community. How do I get involved in The Literacy Cooperative?
All literacy service providers and community organizations that support literacy are invited to work with The Literacy Cooperative. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 216.776.6180, indicating your interest in getting involved and providing your email and full contact information. You will be included on our stakeholders list and receive program updates and invitations to stakeholder meetings. For more information on our work with providers, click here.
Back to Top
How do I find help to improve my literacy skills or the literacy skills of a loved one?
To find the correct provider to help with literacy skills, click here.Back to Top
I would like to volunteer to help improve literacy in Greater Cleveland. How do I get started?
One of the greatest needs among literacy providers in Greater Cleveland is volunteers.
For information on volunteering, click here.Back to Top