Friday, January 7, 2011


Members of the Hispanic Literacy Coalition. (Photo by Brad)When one thinks of illiteracy in America, most often what comes to mind is the plight of immigrants attempting to learn the language of their new country. But, the secret and shocking truth is that functional illiteracy is a major problem among native-born adult Americans. The reasons are many and varied, but the exciting fact is that organizations are attacking the problem with classes utilizing volunteer tutors.
    In Chicago, literacy tutoring programs are supported with financial grants from the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White in his role as State Librarian. Chicago literacy programs are divided into four coalitions: West Side, South Side, North Side, and Hispanic. Each coalition is comprised of individual organizations and agencies providing literacy instructional programs.
Kathy Allison, Exec. Dir. of United For Better Living and Chairperson of the West Side Literacy Coalition and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, welcomes representatives of literacy tutoring programs to a holiday party celebrating the successes of their crusade to end illiteracy. (Photo by Brad)

The four coalitions combine to form the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. The year 2010 has been a banner one for the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, despite the financial challenges facing all of the organizations providing tutoring. The successes of the Citywide Literacy Coalition are due in large measure to the dynamic leadership provided by Kathy Allison, Executive Director of United For Better Living at 4540 West Washington Boulevard, affiliated with Corinthian Temple C.O.G.I.C.

Shirley Jenkins, Treasurer & Membership Chairperson of the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, reminds members to keep their dues up to date. (Photo by Brad)

Allison is Chairperson of the West Side Literacy Coalition and, by default, took over the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. Under her guidance, she has made the West Side the most active in the city and, as Chairperson of the Citywide Coalition, Allison has succeeded in building literacy service providers into effective advocates and energetic lobbyists for the cause. She rallies her fellow literacy program directors to raise the profile of literacy as a very real threat to successful and rewarding lives for large numbers of people.

“This has been an amazingly successful year – do not underestimate our accomplishments,” declares Becky Raymond, first Exec. Dir. of the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. (Photo by Brad)

During 2010, the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition helped launch the first-ever joint conference between the Commission on Adult Basic Education and ProLiteracy. At the conference, the CCLC Steering Committee was recognized for its leadership by prominent educators and foundation funders.
Program directors of the West Side Literacy Coalition. (Photo by Brad)

With four other cities, Chicago was invited to participate in the Great Cities Summit. This led to a major grant of $80,000 from the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation. In October, CCLC received a $27,500 grant from the Boeing Corporation, permitting it to hire Becky Raymond as its first Executive Director. In November, CCLC received a $25,000 grant from the McCormick Foundation for capacity building and general operations. In the spring of 2011, the Citywide Coalition will publish a baseline assessment of literacy needs and services in Chicago.

Members of the South Side Literacy Coalition. 
(Photo by Brad)

Member agencies of the four coalitions gathered at Kathy Allison’s United For Better Living the week before Christmas to celebrate their dramatic progress and share ideas for the coming year.
    For information on the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition, assistance with starting a literacy tutoring program, becoming a volunteer tutor, or finding a tutoring program for services, call Kathy Allison at 773/261-3309.

Kathy Allison & board members of the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. (Photo by Brad)

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