“When you want to explain something and you don’t have a way to explain, it’s a wall,” Mario explained. “But, now it’s more open. This opened the doors. Now I can feel free.” Thanks to the help they got at Literacy Network, Mario and his wife Maria have a thriving business, Evolution Cleaning. “I can explain more to them over the phone. I can feel more happy because now, my clients, we can talk about each other. Sometimes my clients ask about my life, my kids, my car. We can talk about more topics,” said Mario.
Mario’s success is just one of more than 800 workplace success stories over the last year. Literacy Network serves more than a thousand adults each year. 90% of our learners have a low income. Learners come from 68 different countries.
The need is great. Approximately 55,000 adults in Dane County struggle with low literacy, and the number is increasing. Low literacy means not being able to read prescription labels, notes from your child’s teacher or a job application.
Literacy Network has helped a growing number of adult learners reach their goals since 1974. Workplace goal achievement is up 20% in the last two years, and student persistence has increased 30% in that time period.
For the last 14 years, we’ve been in a Park Street location that is too small. Students are often packed into classrooms, and there are only a two tutoring spaces for individual work. It is an environment that doesn’t afford dignity to adult learners. So we are on a path to build our capacity and better serve adult learners.
Last year, we purchased a building for half the appraised value thanks to the generosity of Dean/St. Mary’s. It is four times the size of our current building, and in the heart of South Madison, where the poverty rate is more than 26%. Renovations have started. In just five weeks, we will move out of our rented space into this renovated building. But to do so, we need your help.
Literacy Network learners will have a dedicated space for childcare, a real library, five tutoring spaces and large classrooms. But paying for the building renovations, a technology lab, and operational support is where we need your help. When we reach our $3 million campaign goal, we will double the number of adults we serve through basic reading, writing, and language education. Now through the end of July, your online gift at www.growingthroughliteracy.org will be match dollar for dollar by our campaign team and generous donors.
I invite you to tour the new space where adult learners will feel dignity, respect, and excitement about meeting their personal literacy goals. Mario’s story of success is one inspiring example. Will you support families like Mario and Maria’s? Learn more about how you can support their dreams at http://www.growingthroughliteracy.org.
Executive Director, Literacy Network of Dane County