In 1991, the United Way of Central Alabama, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and the Junior League of Birmingham identified a need to support those battling adult illiteracy in Central Alabama. Together, they formed The Literacy Council.
The Literacy Council’s vision is one of a community in which each person achieves his or her maximum literacy potential. We work to achieve this vision through our mission to develop, strengthen and support Basic Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages services in Blount, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker Counties.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 16% of adults in the State of Alabama are functionally illiterate. That means there are more than 92,000 adults in Central Alabama who do not read well enough to earn a GED or fill out a job application or understand the label on a prescription bottle. Illiteracy is a personal tragedy for the person as well as a public dilemma for our community. Many of our state’s ills can be directly attributed to our low levels of education. Of those 92,000 functionally illiterate adults, some are working in menial jobs, some are in prisons or homeless shelters, and many more are living on welfare. If we could teach these adults to read, what changes would we see in their lives? What changes would we see in our communities?