About one in six adults in the U.S. is not literate, as defined by reading and writing above a fifth grade level.
Low literacy costs the nation more than $200 billion a year in lost productivity.
More than four million Pennsylvania adults lack the basic literacy skills needed for gainful employment.
Those statistics are listed by the Pottstown Adult Literacy Center among "Literary Fast Facts" to highlight the need in Pennsylvania and in the Pottstown tri-county area for support of adult literacy programs.
The center, part of the Pottstown YWCA but located in its own offices in the lower level of 1830 E. High St., offers classes and tutoring for adults and students in reading, writing, citizenship and math.
The center has a small staff, using resources of volunteers and materials bought through grants and limited funding.
Like most service agencies, the center has experienced cuts in funding and grants from county and state government due to budget constraints.
Despite the cuts, the need for training is increasing. The center served more than 400 adults last year and expects to see that number go higher this year. Many are English as Second Language students who need help mastering English to continue education, workforce training, or to get jobs.
Others are students who need extra help to master college courses or pass tests necessary for education or work.
Some in the program are older adults who never learned to read well enough to read to their grandchildren.
Increasing literacy in our local adult population is important to the community and to our nation's economy. It is certainly important to the newspaper industry which depends on people reading.
Those are among the reasons our staff and our TownSquare network of bloggers joined forces with the literacy center to raise money and awareness about the need for adult literacy training. Tuesday marked the wrapup of a monthlong campaign in which an anonymous donor gave $1 for every name of a person who signed on to support literacy programs.
The effort raised more than $900 for the tri-county center.
Literacy support does not stop here. The program needs volunteers and continued sources of funding to buy materials.
For those who read and write every day, it's easy to take literacy for granted.
Such is not the case for everyone.
Helping our community raise the level of literacy is a goal in which we are proud to take part.