Literacy – Why It Matters

Why Literacy? “Literacy is…. The road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize their full potential.” Kofi Annan

On August 28, 2018, the Community Foundation brought 71 interested individuals together to talk about low literacy rates in Richmond County. Those in attendance came from community nonprofits, the Richmond County school district, government agencies and our state partners from Literacy For All. We were presented with the following facts:

  • 1.7 million Georgia adults are low literate
  • 63% of Georgia third graders are not reading on grade level
  • Children whose parents are low literate have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level

This team was tasked to think through new ideas that could help combat these statistics in both children and adults in Richmond County. From this meeting came the genesis of what would become the Community Foundation’s first multi-year funding endeavor, the Literacy Initiative.

It’s hard to believe but we just kicked off the second year of this impactful work. Our first year had a lot of ups and downs: we saw staff changes; we had to shift and move programming due to a pandemic; and, we had schools close … open… and then close again… only to open one more time – all due to the pandemic. Programs and meetings converted to virtual learning and some took place in parking lots between caseworkers and parents. Still the attitudes of the people working on this pilot project were positive and we have begun to see some fantastic data to support our concept.

One example comes from Laurie Cook, the Director of Communities in Schools (CIS), one of the partners of the Initiative. Laurie’s program is working directly with the students of Lamar Milledge Elementary:

    “Typically, the children that are referred to CIS are in the bottom 40% of readers. However, the i-Ready scores for fall are in and… the top reading performer using fall i-Ready scoring for first grade was a student we worked with all last year. The top three performing second graders in i-Ready reading were also students we worked with last year as first graders.”

This is just one of the positive effects of the Initiative, and I look forward to sharing more success stories in the future.

Communities in Schools initiated Read With Me, a community campaign that is focused on increasing literacy in Augusta and Richmond County. This YouTube channel is dedicated to children’s literature and has local individuals reading a variety old favorites along with fun, informative new offerings. They anticipate having over 40 stories posted by the end of the year. Click here to check it out.


Rebecca Wallace Photo

Rebecca Wallace
Director of Grant and Community Engagement