As Buffalo continues to rebound, it’s important that no one is left behind. These days, we’re witnessing a lot of new developments that we can all be happy about. There are even new workforce training initiatives being launched, in order to arm people with the job skills that they need to advance their careers in the trades. But when all is said and done, there’s still a segment of the population that is not being addressed – those that cannot read or write.
Whether it’s lack of education or a language barrier, Buffalo is still faced with a serious literacy issue. In order to combat illiteracy, the first thing that needs to happen is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Buffalo’s illiteracy rate is 30% – 10% higher than the national average.
“63% of all U.S. jobs now require education beyond high school. Yet, nearly half of the U.S. workforce has only a high school education or less, and/or low English proficiency. This severely limits their access to jobs, college, and citizenship, and increases their vulnerability to living in poverty.” – Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult and youth literacy services
Low literacy affects every area of life:
- 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
- 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
- 76% of adults on public assistance are illiterate or unable to read more than simple text
- Welfare recipients with the lowest literacy skills stay on welfare the longest
- 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
- 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems
Now that we understand the seriousness of the problem at hand, we need to come together as a community to address it. We must come up with additional ways to support the programs that work, because the government funding for these types of literacy programs is not sufficient.
On Wednesday, October 24, from 6pm to 8:30pm, a Toast To Literacy will take place at Resurgence Brewing Company – 1250 Niagara Street. Tickets for the event are $50, with proceeds benefitting Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara (LNYBN).
“All event proceeds will directly support our adult literacy tutoring programs that provide hope for thousands of residents and their families.” – Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara
For more information, visit literacybuffalo.org.