A Detroit Free Press article on Reading Works, of which Southwest Solutions is a partner, illustrates why improving adult literacy is essential to revitalization efforts in the city:
Here is the section of the article about Southwest Solutions adult literacy program:
Putting people to work
Southwest Solutions, a nonprofit in southwest Detroit, joined Reading Works as a partner last year.
“We’re preparing people to read English, speak English and preparing them to take the GED,” said Tim McGorey, the senior program manager. “What Reading Works has done is provide us with a wider network of adult education programs.”
Many adults, McGorey said, are learning English as a second language and enroll in the program with limited reading skills — reading, at best, at the sixth-grade level. After about two years of classes, they are able to read at an 11th- or 12th-grade level.
But, reading, McGorey said, is just a starting point.
“We’re trying to help people get more reading skills so they can get jobs and be more effective in their daily lives,” he added. “When you’re inundated with words, if you don’t understand what’s coming at you, you lost out. You don’t have the tools to survive — and thrive.”
Adult literacy is a challenging problem to address, said Alisa Diez, executive director of Macomb Literacy in Clinton Township. It takes time — months and years — to learn to read and write, and every adult starts at a different level and has different needs.
“No one ever says: ‘I can’t read,'” she said. “There’s a huge stigma around that. People are hiding.”
But, she said, boosting literacy helps put people to work — and it changes lives.
Diez recalled a father who joined the program who worked at a car wash and realized he couldn’t advance and make more money without better reading skills. He also had a son who needed prescription medicine.
“The thought of giving it to him everyday without knowing how to read the instructions was so scary,” she said.