Helping Hands: Literacy skills the best road to employment

The 2010 census reports that about 11 percent of adults in Centre County and 14 percent of adults in Clearfield County are functionally illiterate. For some families, that may translate to not being able to read to a child or understand the directions on a medicine bottle. For others, it may hinder work-related opportunities.

Mid-State Literacy Council, a United Way partner agency, provides instruction to about 300 adults each year; with literacy skills, they are more likely able to obtain employment, undergo training and access higher education.

Workplaces require increasingly higher skills. John Tyler, an assistant professor of education, economics and public policy at Brown University, conducted research that demonstrates that young adults with higher math skills do better at entry-level jobs and earn more.

With instruction, Mid-State Literacy Council students learn reading, math, English and writing skills to help them pass the commercial driver’s license exam, enter health-related fields and maintain employment. The council’s trained volunteer tutors teach students health-related reading skills, reading for employment, how to write memos and emails, reading to children, how to solve work-related math problems and speaking English for communicating with co-workers.

This year the literacy council is the designated recipient of the Tussey Mountainback race Oct. 25.

“The Mountainback race is thrilled to be able to support the work of the Mid-State Literacy Council. Few people realize the significant percentage of our local population who experience very real obstacles in their daily lives because they lack basic literacy skills,” said race director Mike Casper. “Mid-State is vital to filling that need. Its work also inspires me personally, because I know people who are bright and motivated but lack the reading and writing skills that can help them really thrive. Mid-State fulfills a key service to them and to our community.”

Gifts and donations support the literacy council. One of the biggest ways the community assists the council is through the Community Spelling Bee; this year’s bee will be at 6 p.m. April 8 at Foxdale Village Retirement Community. At the event, the council will accept children’s book donations to support summer reading programs. The literacy council donates more than 1,200 books for children to read over the summer to support their reading skills, as children who read while on break from school are more likely to maintain their literacy skills.

In addition, we are always interested in gaining volunteer tutors.

For those interested in supporting literacy, donations and gifts can be made at mid-stateliteracycouncil.org. We can also be reached at 238-1809, mslc@mid-stateliteracycouncil.org and at 248 E. Calder Way, Suite 307, State College.