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What is Adult Literacy?

"Literacy is using printed and written information to achieve personal goals, develop knowledge and build potential to better participate in society." (National Assessment of Adult Literacy Survey 2003)


Literacy isn't just reading and writing and being able to balance a checkbook. It's about communication and being able to express yourself not only in writing but in speech. It's about the ability to understand what other people are trying to communicate to you, too. Here at Literacy Volunteers, we work to help our learners place building blocks for literacy success and, therefore, greater successes at home, in the workplace, and in the community at large.

Who Are Our Learners?

One of the most important things you can know about our adult learners is that there is no "typical" adult learner. This is why the highly individualized services we offer are so important: every student is different and has different needs when it comes to literacy.

There is strong statistical evidence linking low literacy levels and poverty, lower-than-average life expectancy stemming from poor health and healthcare choices, lower-than-average rates of employment, higher rates of criminality, and more.

Did You Know?

Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. In the same period, more than 6 million Americans dropped out of high school altogether.

About 42% of adults in Maine are functioning at the lowest levels of literacy.

More than 39 million adults aged 16 and older in the United States lack a high school credential and are not enrolled in any educational program.

Only 27 percent of parents with below basic literacy levels report reading to their children five or more times a week.

One in seven adults in Maine are functionally illiterate, which is approximately 189,000 people throughout the state.

8.1 million adults dropped out of school before 8th grade.