On September 8, the world will mark the 48th annual International Literacy Day to remind us all that reading, writing, and basic math remain an elusive target for nearly 800 million adults around the globe, including one in six adults in the United States. In Rensselaer County, thousands of adults struggle with low literacy, leading to limited access to employment and other opportunities. Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County (LVORC) is part of a national network of organizations that work every day to end the adult literacy crisis.

According to ProLiteracy, the largest membership organization advancing the cause of adult literacy and basic education in the nation, more than 36 million adults in the U.S. lack the most basic literacy skills, and 15 percent of Americans without a diploma don’t have jobs. ProLiteracy provides more than 1,100 community-based literacy organizations, including LVORC with tools to help educate adult learners and help them meet the demands of today’s workforce. “About one in six adults is still not literate, and approximately 67.4 million school-aged children are not enrolled in school,” said Judith Smith, Executive Director of LVORC.  “Literacy helps families be healthier and safer and provides people sustainable opportunities to support themselves through work, contributing ultimately to the economic growth of our region and our country.”

“Low literacy costs the nation more than two hundred billion dollars each year in lost productivity, as well as an additional one to two billion in health and safety issues,” said Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Every dollar spent on adult literacy and education provides returns to the country through higher employment, added tax revenues, reduced welfare payments, and less crime.”