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Want To Help Kids Read Better? A Message From Literacy Buffalo Niagara's Executive Director, Tara Schafer

Mon, Mar 28th 2022 10:25 am

Fund Adult Literacy Programs and Increase Their Parents' Literacy Skills

The New York State legislature is currently considering an innovative approach to increasing access to adult literacy services by creating a Community Literacy Fund to support volunteer literacy tutors.

Literacy Buffalo New York stands in strong support of a Community Literacy Fund for numerous reasons. An additional 35,000 New York residents will receive affordable literacy assistance. Only 3% of those seeking help for literacy are able to get it right now. The Community Literacy Fund allocates a much needed, dedicated stream of money.

Additional funding for adult education will impact the trajectory of our region for generations. The City of Buffalo in particular already suffers from low adult literacy rates. If we don't act now, we cripple the future of today's youth, their families and the region's overall economy. When parents struggle to read, it is likely that their children will as well. Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.

Literacy Buffalo Niagara works everyday to change these grim results.

Without better adult/parental literacy, the region is relegating tens of thousands of children to lives devoid of success. Through no fault of their own, these kids are doomed. And it gets worse: low literacy and poverty go hand in hand. 70% of welfare recipients have low literacy levels. There is a clear correlation between reading levels and earning power.

Thousands of children in the Buffalo Public School system are at tremendous risk, seriously exacerbated by the low adult/parental literacy in Buffalo. In the 2018-19 school year, the last year that data was available, NYS testing showed that about 75% of Buffalo students could not read, write and perform math at grade level. In the past two years, it has worsened, with even more students falling behind. Well intentioned parents are unable to help their children.

We can change that-helping parents helps students.

Adult education programs like Literacy Buffalo Niagara foster essential skills, improve family literacy and advance workforce development, ensuring that our students can work and contribute to the economy. We use volunteer tutors, making our services very cost effective, to strengthen families and better the lives and futures of children-but we need increased, steady and ongoing funding to make a difference.

We also need community support and there is a way that everyone can help. Right now there are 35 people waiting to upgrade their literacy skills--some are our neighbors, friends and family. Volunteering to tutor another person can be life changing. Please call us at 876-8991 or visit www.literacybuffalo.org

Through helping our students, you are helping their children, their families and potentially transforming communities.

Tara Schafer, Executive Director of Literacy Buffalo Niagara

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