CLEVELAND — 66 percent of adults in Cleveland are considered “functionally illiterate." That's according to a study done in conjunction with Case Western Reserve University.
The struggle with literacy only got harder with the COVID-19 pandemic. In today's Education Station, we talk to Seeds of Literacy, which is a free service and organization in Cleveland dedicated to helping educate our community.
“Our students are very, very diverse and so every student story is very different,” says Dr. Carmine Stewart.
The stories behind the struggles are never the same, but the goal for every student at Seeds of Literacy is to earn a GED and live a better life. Stewart says many of the adults struggle with everyday tasks like reading a bus schedule or have trouble applying for jobs.
“What that means is not that they're not smart folks, but just that their holes in their literacy and education foundation makes it difficult for them to really get information that's in print -- whether it's mathematical information or just reading or to communicate effectively in writing.”
Statistics show an adult without a high school diploma earns 42 percent less than an adult with a diploma. The percentage of adults without a high school diploma who live in poverty is twice that of those who have a high school diploma and when the pandemic hit, classes were forced to go online, which caused a total disruption for a lot of students.
“We worked really hard with community resources to get our students access to internet because internet access can be a luxury for folks,” Stewart says.
For Theresa Daye, she has had too many stops and starts to count.
“Because I have family, kids, husband, house. So now everybody's grown and going to business, now I can get the things that I need.”
Daye says she just happened to find a sign for Seeds of Literacy and walked in to get more information. Now she has a specific goal she’s working toward.
“I would like to get my GED because I have grandkids and I want to show them that you can, you know, achieve your goal. I would like everybody to graduate.”
Seeds of Literacy has locations on both the east and west -side of Cleveland. They are fully funded by donations and the tutors are all volunteers. Right now, they are looking for bi-lingual volunteers -- especially Spanish speaking. If you want to donate or volunteer, click here for their site.