Why does literacy matter?

Can you imagine going through an entire day without literacy?  How challenging do you think that would be?

Literacy impacts nearly every aspect of a person’s life. From the ability to navigate public transportation and administer medications to job security and success in school, literacy is imperative to leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

For the students with whom City Year works, increasing literacy skills is a primary goal. Low literacy skills in adolescent students affect  achievement in all areas, but especially Math and English.  This is why City Year strategically targets the areas where the greatest impact on student achievement in academics can be made.

A couple of sobering facts:

  • 50% of ninth grade students in urban, high-poverty schools read at least three years below grade level.
  • Students with low literacy skills make up a sizeable portion of the nearly seven thousand students who drop out of high school every school day.

Luckily City Year is working to change this. The In School & On Track initiative seeks to reach 50% of the students who are falling off track within City Year schools, and with good reason. Students who drop out of high school have significantly lower rates of employment and higher rates of incarceration, while those who are better educated and more literate have:

  • Higher-skilled occupations
  • Higher weekly, annual, and lifetime earnings
  • Better access to training through their employers
  • And, an increased likelihood of voting

The good news is that City Year’s work is already impacting these students! Just last year, there was a 20% increase in on-track students, for those who received at least 15 hours of tutoring from a corps member. As we continue to increase our students’ literacy skills, we are working directly to reverse the dropout crisis and increase the college and career readiness of the students and communities that we serve.

Post by Jamie Fisher, City Year HQ Online Literacy Content Specialist and Rachael Alexander, City Year HQ National Manager of Literacy Initiatives


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