A few years ago my roommate and I had some friends over for dinner. Those friends included a one Noah Albro and Jenny Jackaway. It was really the first time I had the opportunity to meet Jenny and get to know her. While we were eating a Mexican feast on the front porch, Jenny told me she was a teacher, and in particular, a reading specialist. She had just filed paperwork to start a non-profit promoting literacy that she named Pages & Chapters. In undergrad at KU, I co-chaired a group called Students Teaching for Literacy. I was elated to meet someone working with this cause and instantly, I wanted to jump in and volunteer. Two years later, I’m honored and grateful to be the Chair of the Board and a literacy advocate in Kansas City.
Jenny, and all of our teachers, are on the front lines, shaping our society via educating the next generation. Education is important. In fact it’s so important, Congress decided the government should pay for it, believing educated people make for better citizens. Not only does education make better citizens, it strengthens the economy. I recently put together economic factors for Kansas City neighborhoods. In the top 10 impoverished neighborhoods, an average 59.56% of the people living there didn’t have a high school degree.
When students who drop below reading level at 3rd grade, 74% of those students will never catch up to their graduating class, presumably becoming high school drop outs. At its present rate, high school drop outs cost US taxpayers up to $350 billion a year in lost wages, taxable income, healthcare, and incarceration costs. Again, that is an ANNUAL cost.*
In Kansas City, 84.6% of students living in the KCMO district are performing below Missouri standards. That’s 14,813 kids.*
I care about literacy. A lot. And it’s not just because it’s an economically smart thing to do. The ability to read affects a person’s every day life, it affects their culture. Think about a really good book you’ve read. Or your favorite book from high school. What if they never made the Harry Potter series a movie?
When I was tutoring a girl just a few short weeks after I met Jenny, we were helping her mom put her resume together. She wasn’t sure if Kansas City was one word or two. When she asked that question, it took my breath away. It made me realize what I take for granted. And this was for her resume, the very paper that will get her a job to feed her four kids.
So what can you do?
Pages & Chapters works with families every Tuesday for several weeks during the summer. We need your help to volunteer (and have two more Tuesdays left! Sign up here! http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084caaa82da1f85-open). Our family literacy workshops, called Open Books, is at 6:00 and takes place at Academie Lafayette, Oak Campus. We provide you with the curriculum to work with a kiddo and one of their family members. You don’t need to be a teacher, you don’t need to be a literacy expert, just someone who can help with a lesson that we provide you.
We also have a few events coming up. If you don’t like us on Facebook already, please do so. That’s the best way to find out what we have going on. You can also subscribe to our email list via our Facebook page, too https://www.facebook.com/pagesandchapters/app_100265896690345
Books on the Move is on September 27th! Come help us hand out over 4,000 books in just 3 hours directly to the Kansas City community. One of my absolutely favorite days of the year. For more on that, take a look at the blog entry before mine. Adrianne DeWeese was a volunteer with us and wrote about her experience.
If you have books you can donate, that would be fantastic. Shoot us a message on Facebook and let us know.
Finally, we’ll have Open Books this fall with more opportunities to help families.
Pages & Chapters has come so far. And I can’t wait to see just how far we can go, and the difference we can make in our community.
To leave you with a quote that truly sums up why we promote literacy so intently.
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” – Kofi Annan
Kate Garman, Chairman of the Board
*Sources: kcmayor.gov and readtosucceedbuffalo.org