Literacy Coalition of Colorado

What would you do if you couldn’t read? What would you do if people could not understand what you were saying?

In Colorado, an estimated 42,000 adults who grew up speaking English read at a kindergarten through third-grade level. At the same time, nearly 17 percent of Colorado households speak a language other than English. For these Coloradans, the statistics paint a bleak picture:

  • Low literacy costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. A recent study by Pfizer put the cost much higher.
  • Ninety percent of welfare recipients are high school dropouts
  • Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16 percent chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70 percent for those who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.
  • Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.”

Fortunately, Colorado adult learners have a resource to help them defy these statistics. For more than 20 years, the Literacy Coalition of Colorado (LCC) has supported learners who wish to learn English or to improve their reading skills. LCC serves adult learners in Colorado by training teachers and connecting students with resources. LCC’s work has paved the way toward literacy and English fluency for thousands of adults who have learned English, improved their reading, joined the workforce, and stayed out of the penal system. Yet available adult education classes meet only 2 percent of the need in Colorado. That’s why LCC is working to increase access to adult education in our state.

But LCC’s work does more than improve life for learners. Nearly 90 percent of job vacancies in Colorado require a high school and/or post-secondary credential, and more than 300,000 adults in Colorado don’t have a high school diploma. LCC is helping to change that, one student at a time.

Because so much of what LCC does benefits adult learners indirectly—for example, offer­ing training to the teachers and volunteers who then teach the students—LCC is inel­igible to apply for most of the grants avail­able to those who directly provide classes for adults. Therefore, donations fund much of LCC’s work. To donate or to get involved, call 720.251.3141 or email steinkedb@litera­cycolorado.org.