“It is Unacceptable”

It happened in the middle of an inspiring event celebrating the accomplishments of learners using the services provided by Literacy Network of Dane County. “The space Literacy Network occupies is not acceptable for the people we serve,” said Literacy Network Executive Director Jeff Burkhart. “Our adult learners are working toward their goals in a space that is too small and doesn’t afford them the dignity necessary to their progress. They deserve better.”

Those words kicked off the official Growing Through Literacy Campaign and a goal of raising $3 million dollars to renovate the former Wingra Clinic on Madison’s south side as the new home for Literacy Network. The surprise announcement was made by Burkhart during Reading Between the Wines on April 28. “Our service model is effective and efficient,” Burkhart said. “Literacy Network does so much with so little, using more than 900 volunteers who give 30,000 hours of their time every year. But the limitation on our services because of too little space is just unacceptable.” Burkhart says the larger, remodeled space will allow Literacy Network to double the number of adults served with basic reading, writing and language education.

  • Approximately 1 million Wisconsin adults qualify for adult literacy and English language services, but only 50,000 (or approximately 5%) of adults in need of services are currently receiving them. (US Census and the National Adult Literacy survey 1992).
  • In Dane county, more than 55,000 residents lack the functional literacy skills and/or English language skills needed to read a letter from their children’s teachers, a job application, a label in a grocery store, or instructions from a doctor. (US Census 2000 and the National Adult Literacy Survey 1992)

More than 800 adults demonstrated improvement in reading, writing, and English last year. Duane is an example of the success. “Reading changed my life,” Duane says. “ I want to go to college. That’s my goal. It’s why I come here. Reading is like a miracle.”

The miracle to help many others like Duane is underway. Learn more about the Growing Through Literacy Campaign, and track its progress: http://growingthroughliteracy.org/

 About Literacy Network

Literacy Network teaches reading, writing and speaking skills to Dane County adults and families so they can achieve financial independence, good health, and greater involvement in community life.
Literacy Network is a non-profit organization in Madison, WI founded in 1974. We work with teachers, tutors, volunteers and donors to improve adult literacy in Dane County. Our programs help adults find career opportunities, read with children and help with homework, improve computer skills, understand finances, and speak with doctors about health concerns.

Literacy Network programs include classes and tutoring programs throughout Dane County which engage more than 500 volunteer tutors and serve more than 1,000 adult learners each year.
Our strong partnerships with businesses, libraries, hospitals, clinics, schools, and social service agencies build essential community connections for our program participants at twenty eight Dane County sites.

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