Adult Education & Family Literacy Week

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week (September 24-30, 2017) reminds us that literacy plays a vital role in the educational achievement, economic success and health of families. As many as 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, perform daily math and use technology above a third grade level.

By designating September 24-30 as national AEFL Week, LVR and other literacy organizations are seeking to raise public awareness about the impact of adult education and family literacy in order to expand access to basic education programs for low-literate adults.

Consider the following facts on the National Impact of Literacy:

  • A mother’s reading level is the single greatest determinant of a child’s success
  • Low literacy costs an estimated $230 billion in annual healthcare costs
  • Women with low literacy are twice as likely as men to earn less than $300 a week
  • Minimum wage workers increased wages by $18 to $25 within 18 months of exiting an adult education program
  • Low literate adults are less likely to vote or join community groups

A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate but fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.

Low literacy affects every area of life, in New York State, and throughout the U.S.

  • 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
  • 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
  • 76% of adults on public assistance are low-literate
  • 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

Literacy Volunteers of Rochester is a leader in the cause of literacy. Our English language, math, Family Literacy and Digital Literacy programs are tackling core challenges confronting the Rochester community. Here’s how you can help:




International Literacy Day

This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. On 8 September, 2017 a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.  Continue reading …

I Truly Believe

My name is Alejandra Céspedes and I have been a Board member of Literacy Volunteers of Rochester for the last six years. I joined LVR because I have personally experienced the struggles of not being able to speak, read or write English.

I came to this country at the age of 15 from Costa Rica with no English skills. I was immediately enrolled in high school where I struggled to learn the new language. I remember the frustration of not being able to read or write a simple sentence. It was paralyzing to not be able to communicate.

I had the fortune of being able to take many English classes where I eventually learned. Not many people have this opportunity. For example, my mother has lived in this country for the last 26 years and her English is not just extremely broken, but she also depends on my sisters and me to read and write any communication.

I truly believe in LVR’s mission. It warms my heart to hear so many success stories where parents can help their kids do their homework; individuals filling out job applications or feeling confident enough to enroll in school to learn skills to better their lives.

Add your voice to Aley’s.



As someone who came from a family of immigrants, I echo the sentiments expressed by Aley. She is a dedicated volunteer who personally knows and understands the challenges our students experience. Aley, along with hundreds of other individuals who support our instructional work in English, reading and math, and our community-based digital and family literacy programs, are the backbone of our organization. Please make a gift today. Your financial support is more important than ever!

 Margaret Sánchez, President, Board of Directors

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week

Adult literacy intersects with almost every socioeconomic issue—parenting, health,
workforce development, and poverty. To address these issues effectively, we must
invest in educating parents and workers. Adult education helps break the cycles of
intergenerational illiteracy and poverty by giving adults the skills they need to be
successful as workers and parents.

The value of adult low literacy to our economy in additional wages and the reduction
in costs for public support programs is estimated at more than $200 billion per year.
Increasing adults’ level of education is a sound investment. Yet, public funding of
adult education has declined over the last 15 years. Most adult education programs
have long student waiting lists. They are able to serve only a fraction of adults who
need services.

Click for printable fact sheet

Secret Lives of Americans

ProLit(R)_4color_MemberOrgProLiteracy is excited to announce that the TV show Secret Lives of Americans has filmed an episode about an adult who struggles with low literacy skills. Secret Lives of Americans is a groundbreaking documentary series that takes an unflinching look at the secrets people keep and the strength that it takes to reveal them to friends and family.

Watch the story of Cleo, a loving and supportive mother from Alabama, who has always encouraged her children to pursue their educational goals—all while keeping a secret that’s been holding her back. Watch the episode on Friday, June 3 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Pivot TV, or watch a recording of the episode online.

Literacy and the 30 million word gap

Jeremy A Cooney“Studies show that the average child on welfare is exposed to 616 words per hours, a child in a working class family is exposed to double that (1,251 words per hour), and children in professional families experience 2,153 words per hour.  … Vocabulary development during the preschool years is related to success in school.”

(This excerpt was originally published in The Daily Record on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. Click here for full article.)

LVR a Matchstick Prize contestant

2016-04-21 LVR at CauseWave event_Susan and Bob-1The Digital Literacy program at LVR was a finalist for the 2016 Matchstick Prize, given by Causewave Community Partners (formerly the Ad Council of Rochester).

Digital Literacy was one of 5 finalists among a total of 54 submissions for the prize. Sponsored by the Democrat & Chronicle Media Group, the prize includes $5,000 in cash and $25,000 in ad space in the newspaper. It is available to nonprofits with a smaller than $1 million budget to support an innovative or creative project. Finalists were selected based on their ability to demonstrate work which had resulted in meaningful and measurable impact on the Rochester community.

Next year, LVR hopes to launch a Digital Literacy Movement that will raise awareness about the growing digital divide, engage large numbers of volunteers and advocates, and implement achievable solutions.

Over the years, LVR has evolved its understanding of adult literacy. In addition to English language literacy, LVR supports math literacy, family literacy and digital literacy. For more about the Digital Literacy Movement, email Brian Kane at

The other finalists for the prize included NAMI Rochester, Gilda’s Club, Angels of Mercy and Compeer Rochester. NAMI Rochester was awarded the prize on April 20 at a Causewave breakfast including more than 520 people.

To volunteer with LVR, click here to connect the Preview Session calendar. Attending a Preview Session is the first step to becoming a volunteer.

To donate to LVR, click here.


Support for LVR grows

Paychex imageThe Paychex Community Foundation awarded LVR a $2,000 grant to support our overall programs which include instructional and digital literacy services to over 600 individuals annually. LVR volunteers annually contribute more than 17,000 hours of service.

The Davenport-Hatch FouDavenport-Hatch logondation announced that LVR will receive a $5,000 grant to support the expansion of our Digital Literacy coordinator position to full-time. The program now provides services at 6 sites in Monroe County for about 60 hours per week.



St. Thomas’ at the digital frontier

featured-imageSt. Thomas’ Episcopal Church continues to lead Rochester into the digital frontier. With a $1,500 grant to LVR’s Digital Literacy program, St. Thomas’ once again shows it understands the link between poverty, literacy and technology.

Digital Literacy navigators work in six locations around the city and the county providing frontline support to people who are technology challenged. From learning computer tips, to completing online job or benefit applications, to writing resumes or participating in online tutorials, Digital Literacy navigators work to close the digital divide with our customers who have limited access to computers and the internet.

St. Thomas’ Investment is About Community

St. Thomas’ gives more than funds. Sara Dougherty, a St. Thomas’s parishioner, is a long-time navigator who has worked with the program at locations in Greece and Rochester. Another parishioner, Mort Nace, continues to be a dedicated Digital Literacy advocate. Thanks are also due to Connie and Peter Barker, and the entire congregation of St. Thomas’ for their continuing financial support.

Join St. Thomas’ by supporting Digital Literacy with a donation today!

Or, you can work alongside the amazing volunteers from St. Thomas’ by becoming a volunteer today!