Literacy is the gatekeeper to education, financial stability, health, relationships, and empowerment. It is the foundation of self-sufficiency and lifelong success. On the other hand, a lack of functional literacy contributes to just about all social and economic problems in our society. For the functionally illiterate, everyday tasks present real problems.
Florida has the third lowest adult literacy level of all 50 states. In Manatee County, as many as one in five adults cannot read above a fifth-grade level. These findings come from the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), a survey of more than 19,000 Americans ages 16 and older.
This means that everyday functions most of us take for granted are difficult and frustrating for many. Basic tasks—filling out applications, writing checks, grocery shopping, reading to children, interpreting a bus schedule, or communicating with a child's teacher—are difficult. For those who can't speak English, the problem is worse. Things like renting an apartment or going to the doctor become terrifying and overwhelming tasks.
Families suffer, too. Parents with low literacy skills have trouble reading to their children and many don't even try. Sadly, the literacy levels of children are strongly linked to the educational levels of their parents.
For these reasons, Manatee Literacy Council strives to empower Manatee County residents to independence through literacy.
More than 36 million adults in America struggle to read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.
Children with low literate parents have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level.
Low literacy costs more than $225 billion annually due to unemployment and lost tax revenue.
$230 billion per year in healthcare costs is linked to low adult literacy skills.
Nearly 30% of adults with income at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential.
There are an estimated 160,000 people in the United States on waiting lists for adult education programs like those Manatee Literacy Council provides.