Ending Illiteracy

Southwest Airlines Partners with Florida Literacy Coalition

More than 36 million American adults have low literacy skills. Often cited as a silent epidemic, 14 percent of adults struggle to read, write, do math and use technology above a third-grade level. Consider the issues that many Central Floridians care deeply about: jobs, crime, poverty, immigration, education, health care and the economy. One factor that can have a positive impact on all of these is increasing adult literacy rates.

Research shows that individuals who participate in adult education and literacy programs have higher future earnings, and their income premiums grow with more intensive participation. Children whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities consistently score higher on standardized reading tests. Put quite simply, adult education programs are among the best available weapons against intergenerational low literacy and poverty.

The Florida Literacy Coalition, headquartered in Maitland, promotes, supports and advocates for the effective delivery of quality adult and family literacy services throughout the state of Florida. As a statewide umbrella literacy organization and the host of Florida’s Adult and Family Literacy Resource Center, FLC provides a range of services to support more than 250 adult education, literacy, ESL and family literacy providers. Special emphasis is placed on assisting community-based literacy organizations with its training and program development needs.

FLC’s goal is to ensure all Floridians have the opportunity to develop functional literacy and language skills. FLC’s services include providing teacher/tutor professional development and training, program grants, technical assistance, student leadership activities, volunteer tutor recruitment and resource sharing. Programs have expanded to include health, job readiness, computer and financial literacy.

“The proudest moment in my life was when I finally brought a note home from school I was able to read to my mother out loud. She and I cried tears of joy.”

– Byron Pitts

“Adults who learn how to read, write, speak and understand English are empowered to help themselves and their families in countless ways,” said Greg Smith, FLC’s executive director. “When a young mother reads to her child for the first time or when a student passes the GED and enrolls in trade school, it can be an absolute game changer. Literacy isn’t a privilege. It’s a fundamental life skill needed to master one’s future.”

Southwest Airlines proudly partners with FLC in Orlando. “Literacy has a profound effect on the overall economic health of the Orlando community,” said Alison Hoefler, Southwest’s Community Affairs & Grassroots Regional Manager. “FLC is making a positive impact and building resilience in communities throughout Florida. We’re proud to support their work and mission.”

Southwest recognizes an outstanding adult learner at the organization’s annual conference with a Flight for Freedom award. The annual conference features keynote speakers and authors who champion literacy and have a personal connection. Some past speakers who have shared their stories include Byron Pitts, a successful Emmy Award-winning journalist who overcame his own struggles as a functionally illiterate child and spoke with a stutter.

“I hid in plain sight for the first several years of my education in school,” said Pitts. “As a professional journalist, I’ve won all the awards you can win. But the proudest moment in my life was when I finally brought a note home from school I was able to read to my mother out loud. She and I cried tears of joy.”

The Florida Literacy Conference, hosted by FLC, will be held in Lake Mary, May 9-11, 2018.

Want To Learn More?

For more information about the Florida Literacy Coalition, local literacy programs and volunteer opportunities, visit www.floridaliteracy.org.

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