Why is Literacy Important

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare according to Begin to Read.com, an organization that provides instructional reading tips and materials. The fourth grade is the watershed year; this is why Project 200 is important right now.

According to a December 15, 2005 literacy report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)Youth Literacy Project - Why is Literacy Important

  • About one in 20 adults in the U.S. is not literate in English
  • 11 million Americans lack the skills to handle many everyday tasks
  • 30 million adults may not be able to make sense of a simple pamphlet
  • Adults with ability to perform challenging and complex reading tasks made an average yearly salary of $50,700 in 2003. That is $28,000 more than those who lacked basic skills.


Literacy statistics and juvenile court

85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.


Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.


Just a few statistics:


  • One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.
  • 43% of adults at Level 1 literacy skills live in poverty compared to only 4% of those at Level 5
  • 3 out of 4 food stamp recipients perform in the lowest 2 literacy levels
  • 90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts
  • 16 to 19 year old girls at the poverty level and below, with below average skills, are 6 times more likely to have out-of-wedlock children than their reading counterparts.