Literacy Dashboard


On November 30, 2021, Bob Paponetti, President & CEO, and Laureen Atkins, VP of Strategic Initiatives, discussed preschool enrollment trends, survey results from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library families, and the effects of adult literacy in advancing the workforce.

Meghan Salas Atwell, Ph.D., Associate Director, Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development, presented on the relationship between participation in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program and kindergarten readiness, and Monica Gaulden, SPARK Ohio Recruitment, Retention and Training Supervisor, shared information on SPARK as an effective early literacy intervention.


Cuyahoga County’s Literacy Crisis

Data shows the pervasive, county-wide challenge of young children and adults without the skills needed to succeed

Cuyahoga County’s literacy crisis will persist for generations unless progress is accelerated in preparing young children for kindergarten and helping more adult residents secure at least a high school education.

An assessment of the state of literacy in Cuyahoga County done by The Literacy Cooperative found:

  • 42% of all children enrolling in kindergarten in the 2018-19 school year weren’t adequately prepared to succeed
  • More than half of Cuyahoga’s children unprepared for kindergarten are enrolling in suburban school districts

Kindergarten Readiness (2018-2019)

Children unprepared for kindergarten are less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade ‑ a predictor of later success in school.

And adults without a high school diploma lack the basic literacy and other skills required to access in-demand jobs that offer paths to prosperity.

Low literacy levels pervade all of Cuyahoga County. For example:

  • 10% of all adults, or 101,221 residents, don’t have a high school diploma as of 2017
  • Nearly 40% of those without a high school diploma are ages 18-44
  • 58% of adults (18-44) without a high school diploma live in the city of Cleveland
  • More than half of the young adults (18-24) without a diploma live in the suburbs

Adults without a High School Diploma