–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Karl Wellensiek
At our March 30 meeting, our very own Rotarian, Jeff Burkhart, described for us the scope of The Literacy Network of Dane County where he is the executive director. With 900 volunteers providing over 30,000 hours of help each year to those with impaired literacy skills at 28 locations in Dane county, the literacy network reaches out to the 55,000 with impaired literacy in the county.
The network serves over 1000 learners each year by providing literacy learning services in the areas of employment, education and health care, the latter including locating health care services and communicating with health care providers. Jeff used numerous anecdotal examples of the wide variety of learners needs from learning to read and complete job applications to acquiring computer and report writing skills needed to keep a job.
Sixty percent of the programs learners are mothers with children at home. By helping these mothers to read English better, they are able to read with their children and to understand better the expectations of their teachers. The level of literacy of mothers is highly correlated with the academic performance of their own children.
Jeff Burkhart described how the Literacy Network directly or indirectly helps in the areas of employment, achievement gaps, recidivism, health care and poverty. It makes Dane County an even better place to live, not only for others with literacy issues but also for the rest of us who take reading for granted.
Watch the video on our club’s YouTube channel here.