Tag Archive for: International Literacy Day

The Literacy Cooperative – 2017 Year in Review

2017 was an exciting year for The Literacy Cooperative. This year we expanded on some initiatives and began working with new ones. In Early Literacy, Reach Out and Read expanded to new sites and we began our work on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program. We launched our #WordGapCLE initiative, which is raising awareness about the importance of parents and caregivers talking, singing and reading with children from birth.  We continued to expand our efforts with adult literacy and career pathways. We led the launch of healthcare and manufacturing contextualized curriculum and are getting ready to pilot a digital literacy contextualized curriculum. We also held a number of great professional development sessions along with our 7th annual Teacher Academy. Our 2nd annual Cleveland Corporate Spelling Bee (CLE-BEE) was a fantastic night of friendly competition and raising awareness about the importance of literacy. Our social media campaigns for Read Across America Day and International Literacy Day had great participation among our partners, community members, and elected officials. We wrapped up this year by launching our brand new website, www.literacycooperative.org. Continue to read below for more details on our initiatives, events and the other work we did this year!


Early Literacy Outcomes

Reach Out and Read

Building relationships has been a key strategy for our Reach Out and Read Coordinator Lynn Foran in 2017.  Working through ROR Site Coordinators and Medical Champions at each clinic, 34,467 new books have been distributed to ROR-trained medical providers to share with families during well child visits with children under 5 years old, and 6,500 gently used books have been made available to children in literacy-friendly waiting rooms.

In 2017, ROR expanded from 23 to 30 active sites reaching families in key neighborhoods in Cleveland: Hough, East Cleveland, Collinwood, and Fairfax. ROR 2017 partners include MCPc, Barnes & Noble, PNC, Thompson Hine, Books-a-Million, West Shore Career-Technical Center, and WKYC.

Imagination Library

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library expanded in Cuyahoga County this year as The Literacy Cooperative was selected to coordinate the outreach and registration of books to zip codes funded through The Bruening and Heights Family Foundations.

Through the Heights Family Foundation, TLC works with agencies, schools and libraries to enroll families in Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Shaker Heights, Euclid and East Cleveland.  The Bruening Foundation’s support expands the reach to Bedford, Garfield, Maple and Warrensville. The objectives of the initiative are to increase families reading together, foster a love of reading in children, improve school readiness, and inform and connect to parents to promote local educational opportunities

Over the course of the year we have established strong relationships with over 48 partner sites. Nearly 4,000 children have been enrolled. Parents receive a welcome letter and  monthly e-newsletters with reading tips, local free family-friendly events, and other resources for parents to explore with their children. We are connecting the Imagination Library to our Reach Out and Read partners to enroll families when they visit their pediatricians.


According to research, by the age of four, children in affluent families will hear 30,000,000 more words than a child in a family in poverty. The #WordGapCLE initiative was launched in connection with Read Across America Day on March 2nd.  Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words, Building a Child’s Brain, was our luncheon keynote speaker. She touched upon the importance of parents and caregivers talking, singing and reading with a child especially from birth to age three.  Building upon her research, we developed posters and rack cards emphasizing the four T’s (Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns, Turn Off) of developing a baby’s brain, which were distributed to doctor offices, business, community organizations and adult literacy agencies. The initiative continued throughout the year with blog posts and a social media campaign to raise awareness about the word gap.(To see more search #WordGapCLE on Twitter). This initiative was linked to Slavic Village’s literacy friendly neighborhood campaign, #SlavicVillageReads.


STEP (Supporting Tutors Engaging Pupils) served K-4 students in five elementary schools in three school districts: Fullerton School of Academics, George Washington Carver STEM, and Marion-Sterling in Cleveland Metropolitan School District; John Dewey in Warrensville Heights City School District; and Shoreview Elementary in Euclid City School District.  The volunteers were high school students from Cleveland Central Catholic and Warrensville High, JCU undergraduates, employees from Alcoa and adults from Grace Baptist Church.  In total, the 104 volunteers provided 227 hours of service in tutoring 148 students. The student attendance ranged from 41% to 93% and averaged 74%.  STEP students made the recommended yearly gains, and, in many cases, more than the recommended yearly gains.

Career Pathways Engagement

The goal of TalentNEO is to increase opportunities for Northeast Ohio jobseekers by demonstrating the value of a skills based approach to attracting, screening, and hiring qualified candidates. By creating a common language of skills between employers and job candidates, TalentNEO will change how hiring is done across Northeast Ohio.

During the second year of the pilot, TalentNEO assessed 1,828 individuals to determine skill scores for career pathway and job advancement opportunities through the WorkKeys assessments. 953 individuals requested upskilling assistance to increase their skill scores with 247 enrolling in staff assisted upskilling and the balance using the online self-directed tool.

NEO Skills Corps

NEO Skill Corps members strive to elevate the knowledge and education of adult job-seekers and entry-level employees with direct service in financial literacy training and basic skills instruction, including adult literacy. Members provide financial literacy training, adult education, workforce development preparation, and employment training with a focus on basic soft skills instruction. During the 2016-17 program year, 894 participants enrolled in financial literacy with 34% opening a bank account, 41% creating a budget, and 10% developing a debt management plan. For the adult education and workforce, of the 942 enrolled in services, 73% completed services, 114 obtained employment, and 681 took the WorkKeys assessments.

Contextualized Curriculum

Contextualized Curriculum is instructional strategies designed to more seamlessly link the learning of foundational skills and academic or occupational content by focusing teaching and learning on concrete applications in a specific context that is of interest to the student. Our work with the contextualized curriculum implementation is one of the best examples of giving this community direct access to best practice information.  Laureen Atkins, Director of Adult Literacy and Career Pathways, led the development, piloting, and implementation of contextualized curriculum.

In 2017, 45 students participated in Healthcare pilots, 5 students in a Manufacturing pilot, and 12 in a Hospitality pilot. Pilot sites included NewBridge, University Settlement, Lorain County Community College ABLE program, and Building Hope in the City. Results from the Healthcare pilots included NewBridge participants meeting the requirements necessary for registration into one of their healthcare training programs, and 67% of University Settlement participants successfully completing the sessions. Building Hope in the City had a 92% completion of their Hospitality program that provided the graduates with Ohio food handler certification.

Professional Excellence

Professional Development Sessions

More than 600 attendees participated in one or more of our 29 sessions of trainings, Literacy Learners Network, Teacher Academy and special events. We partnered with Cuyahoga Community College, Towards Employment, Seeds of Literacy, Aspire Greater Cleveland, and Euclid Council of the International Reading Association to provide sessions on reentry transitioning, mental health symptoms and services and creative writing.

Teacher Academy

This year 115 teachers and administrators attended our 7th annual Teacher Academy. Our annual event gathers teachers representing the First Ring Suburbs and Cleveland Metropolitan School District for a full-day program featuring carefully selected educators who demonstrate to a ‘classroom’ of peers, the strategies and resources that have proven effective in their classrooms. This year was our largest number in attendance and the first year we had teachers from each of the 16 First Ring Suburbs as well as CMSD.



Dr. Dana Suskind Luncheon

As part of our Read Across America Day celebration, Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words Building a Child’s Brain, was our keynote speaker at a luncheon at the Wyndham Hotel with more than 170 in attendance. She spoke about the thirty-million-word gap and the importance of reading, talking and singing with a child from birth.

Read Across America Day

TLC celebrated Read Across America Day for the 2nd year in a row on March 2nd with a social media campaign. Our #WordGapCLE initiative invited Greater Clevelanders to post pictures or videos of themselves reading, singing or talking with their children. If they didn’t have kids, we asked them to be an example and post a reading selfie. We had great participation including Representative Jim Renacci, Councilman Kevin Kelley, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Cleveland Mayor Jackson and his staff, as well as a number of other Mayors and organizations across Northeast Ohio.


On September 7th we held our 2nd annual Cleveland Corporate Spelling Bee (CLE-BEE), sponsored by Third Federal Foundation and Lubrizol. Twenty-seven teams joined together for a fun evening of competition and raising awareness about literacy. Celebrities participating included WKYC Meteorologist Betsy Kling, WTAM Sports Director Mike Snyder, Common Pleas Judge John Russo, singer/songwriter Michael Stanley, and Cleveland Cavaliers radio voice Jim Chones. The final four teams included Cuyahoga Community College, United Way Services of Greater Cleveland, Medical Mutual of Ohio and Benesch Law.  Ultimately, Benesch Law dethroned Baker Hostetler and became our 2017 spelling champions, taking home not only trophies but a customized football donated by the Cleveland Browns, and custom jerseys donated by the Indians and CAVS. Be sure to take a look at our Storify for a complete recap of the night.

International Literacy Day

For the 4th year in a row we led a community celebration of International Literacy Day on September 8th. This year we built upon our #WordGapCLE theme and asked the community to share “How has literacy has empowered you?” using the hashtag #powerofwordsCLE. We received a number of great answers from Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, the Mayors of Parma Heights and Westlake, the President of Cleveland State University, President Berkman as well as a number of several patrons of the libraries.


Common Ground

On July 30th, TLC took part in The Cleveland Foundation’s Common Ground event. The event was focused on building connections, valuing all voices and sharing ideas on how to move Greater Cleveland forward. Our Executive Director Bob Paponetti and Reach Out and Read Coordinator, Lynn Foran hosted a lunch talk about the Thirty Million Word Gap at the Maple Heights Library.


Public Policy and Advocacy

Speaking Engagements

Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Board One Direction Event -October – Our President & CEO Bob Paponetti was invited to speak about the importance of advancing literacy, especially digital literacy.

United Way Services of Greater Cleveland requested The Literacy Cooperative staff to speak at three committee meetings – education, income, and resource development; regarding the work of TLC and to educate the volunteers on the early literacy and adult education landscape in our community.

City Year – Our President & CEO was asked to share the work of TLC with the new class of City Year Members.

Live on Lakeside – Bob Paponetti and Board Vice-Chair, Emily Campbell appeared in August to promote the CLE-BEE as well as discuss our initiatives.

Radio –  Mike Snyder, radio host of WTAM’s Cleveland’s Morning News with Wills and Snyder, invited Bob Paponetti to deliver the CLE-BEE words to him during his on-air show.  Mike asked him to participate in The Spew with John Lanigan and Mike Trivisonno as well.

Coalition on Adult Education/Ohio Association for Adult and Continuing Education Regional Institute – TLC was a major sponsor for this event held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland. TLC sponsored the keynote speaker, Leslie Fisher,  on October 6, 2017.  Ms. Fisher, a national speaker on digital literacy learning, discussed with the group the history of technology and its importance in the classroom.

Pregnant With Possibilities’ Mommy & Me Ball. –   On Sunday, September 24, TLC teamed up with Reach Out & Read and WKYC to provide a literacy connection for over 50 moms and their children.  Reach Out & Read provided a reading nook for moms and children to share a book with ROR volunteer readers.  Each child selected a book to take home with them.

National Conferences

National Skills Coalition.   Laureen, our Director of Adult Literacy and Career pathways, attended The Skills Summit that was held in Washington DC and included opportunities for TLC to meet with U.S. legislators and staff as part of our Ohio Delegation.
In October, she attended the Skills in the States Forum in Nashville, TN to learn about workforce development and adult education strategies throughout the nation that focus on career pathway opportunities for low-skilled adults.

Dolly Parton Imagination Library Conference – Our President & CEO, Reach Out and Read Coordinator and Imagination Library Coordinator attended this conference.  Sessions focused on emerging evidence and evaluations showing the impact of Imagination Library, new marketing materials were shared, and suggestions for fund development.


Our Director of Adult Literacy & Career Pathways submitted an editorial, “The Path to Better Jobs Starts with Literacy, and there’s help” that was published in The Plain Dealer and on Cleveland.com in June 2017.  It was in response to an article focused on employers’ struggles in finding qualified workers. Congressman Jim Renacci’s staff contacted The Literacy Cooperative for comments on his bill to Help Ohioans Move from Welfare to Work.

TLC was asked to present to the 2016-2017 Leadership Cleveland 2 class that was focusing their efforts on early learning. After presenting our work around the Word Gap, Reach Out & Read, and Imagination Library, Bob Paponetti was asked to join the class. His participation led to the Word Gap selected as one of the initiatives supported by the class. This led to the creation of a Word Gap Task Force under Invest In Children.

We want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a fun and safe New Year. Be sure to follow our blog and our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for up-to-date information about our the progress of our initiatives and the other work we are doing to advance literacy in the Greater Cleveland area.



What Are Your Book Recommendations?


 What books would you recommend for others to read? Do you have a favorite book or author? We asked the same questions on September 8th in celebration of International Literacy Day.

International Literacy is a day that was created by UNESCO (United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. For the last three years we here at The Literacy Cooperative, along with the Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library and WKYC have conducted a social media campaign to celebrate the day. Each year we ask Greater Clevelanders to participate by posting a reading selfie with a book around a certain theme.

This year’s the theme was, “Recommended Reads.” We asked everyone to snap a picture of themselves reading a book that they would recommend others to read and then post it to their social media accounts with #CLEReads2016 and #RecommendedReads. Throughout the day we got a number of great pictures and some great book recommendations.

Cleveland mayor, Mayor Frank Jackson, recommended Listening In, The Secret White House Recording of John F. Kennedy, by Caroline Kennedy and Ted Widmer. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish recommended, It’s All About Who You Hire, How They Lead, by Marten Mandel. We had council members take part as well. Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland recommended, A Fortune-Teller Told Me, by Tiziana Terzani. Even Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Connie Shultz took part and recommended Dark Money, by Jane Mayer.

Everyone can use a new book to read or a new author to try. Take a look at the tables below for all the book recommendations from International Literacy Day. See if any spark your interest and add them to your bookshelf!

International Literacy Day was a great day to raise awareness about the crisis in adult literacy. However, one day is not enough do justice to this issue. Being a voice for literacy, early and adult, is something that needs to be done all year long.

This week (Sept. 26 – Oct 1st) is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. It is a week to raise awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy.

Instead of recommending a book to others this week, try to recommend articles, blogs, websites, and research papers that focus on the need for advancing literacy. This week would be a great time to read up on adult education and family literacy; to learn why it is being done, what needs to be done, and the impact it has on every part of the community.

COABE’s (Commission on Adult Basic Education) site has some great research reports detailing the impact of literacy on the economy. They have a great section on Adult Education and Family Literacy Week with a number of statistics to share through social media and in communication to elected officials.

ProLiteracy is another site we recommend for learning about the needs and movements in adult education. Their site has a number of great resources and a number of white papers ranging in topics from “Literacy and Women’s Health,” to a “Workplace Literacy Guide.” They also have a blog where they frequently post about the impact of literacy and even student success stories.

Of course The Literacy Cooperative is a great resource that assists the community in advocating and advancing literacy.  Our website includes articles and links to the latest information and research on the best and promising practices for early literacy and adult education initiatives.  Be sure to check out our website.

Do you have any articles or website you would recommend for others to read and learn more about the importance of adult education and family literacy? Be sure to leave a comment with your suggestions below.  And be sure to share your recommendations on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #CLEReads2016.

Join us in celebrating International Literacy Day, September 8th!

For the third year The Literacy Cooperative in partnership with Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, and WKYC, will celebrate International Literacy Day, September 8, 2016, promoting the importance of literacy and reading with a social media campaign. (We are also holding our inaugural Corporate Spelling Bee on September 8th as well). Last year we had over 500 pictures shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also trended #1 in the Cleveland area.

International Literacy Day 2016 collage

The city of Cleveland is already coming together to celebrate International Literacy Day with us! Some great pictures from Cleveland police officers, Captain Sulzer and Community Policing Commander Johnny Johnson, the Mayor of South Euclid, the team at Books@Work and the team from NEO Regional Library System!

Why is this so important? Literacy is an essential skill, one we use every day. Whether it is checking a bus schedule before work, reading a recipe to make dinner or taking medications before bed; it is a skill many of us don’t even think about using. For many though reading is difficult, limiting their everyday lives. In Cuyahoga County 435,000 adults read at or below a 7th grade level. For these low-literate adults daily life can be a struggle. Low literacy limits their job opportunities, which in turn limits their ability to earn a livable wage and take care of their families. Lack of literacy skills can make it difficult to help their children in school; causing their children to lose a valuable resource for their own successes. Even every day activities, like grocery shopping and cooking are difficult. They may be unable to read nutritional information on food, limiting their ability to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

This may seem like a large crisis, one beyond your capabilities to help, but that is not true. One of the main ways you can help is by raising awareness on International Literacy Day, Thursday September 8th .  International Literacy Day is a global campaign instituted by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to raise awareness about literacy and how it is critical to our region’s economic future.

The theme for this year’s campaign is Recommended Reads. On September 8th, we are asking everyone to post a reading selfie with a book or books that you recommend for others to read. It can be an all-time favorite book, a new release that you fell in love with or even an interesting article. Then be sure to share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #CLEreads2016 and #RecommendedReads. Be sure to follow the hashtags yourself to see what others are posting and to get some reading suggestions for yourself.

Don’t have the book on hand? No problem, just post a reading selfie and include the title and author of the book you would like to recommend in your post. Be sure to tag the author in your post. There is nothing a writer enjoys more than seeing their work recommended to others. Want to help a low literate adults improve their reading skills?  Suggest a children’s book for parents to read to their children. We want everyone to end the day with having added at least one book to their “to-read” list as well as have heightened their awareness about literacy in our community and country.

We have an additional way you can participate in this very important day with us. During the month of September the library systems of Cuyahoga County are promoting “A Card for Every Child,” initiative. The initiative seeks to ensure that all children under 18 in Cuyahoga County own a library card.

In preparation for the day we are asking you to encourage your followers, friends, family and colleagues to go to the library and get their library card. Don’t have one yourself? Set an example and get your own card. The library is full of wonderful books for you and for you to recommend to other

International Literacy Day is an important day to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. It only takes a few simple steps to participate:


Please consider joining us in celebrating International Literacy Day on September 8th. Low literacy in our community is a crisis. One that desperately needs your help and attention. One picture and post on September 8th can do so much to help us continue to raise awareness about this important issue.

We look forward to seeing all the fantastic reading selfies and great book recommendations!

Make sure you are following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@literacycoop) to stay up-to-date on the activities of the day!

CLE-BEE Corporate Spelling Bee

CLE-Bee graphic

Can you spell C-O-M-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N? On September 8th 2016, word connoisseurs from across Northeast Ohio will gather together for a “friendly” Corporate Spelling Bee. The event will raise awareness around the implications of low literacy and funds for The Literacy Cooperative.  The inaugural CLE-BEE will take place at The City Club of Cleveland and will be a fun event that will bring together members of the community while getting out the message about the challenges of literacy.

Over our ten year existence, we have hosted a number of events featuring prominent speakers about different aspects of the literacy, but we have never hosted our own fundraising event. We here at The Literacy Cooperative asked ourselves what kind of event would bring together the community, allow us to get the message out about literacy and its challenges and also be fun? A Corporate Spelling Bee seemed like the perfect idea. It is literacy themed and can easily involve all members of the corporate community from law firms and banks to community organizations.

The spelling bee will also provide an opportunity to amplify our message about literacy. One of our goals is to bring broader awareness of the challenges of literacy to our community and this event will allow us to do just that.

The CLE-BEE will take place September 8th, in conjunction with our annual celebration of International Literacy Day. The competition will consist of four brackets: legal, banking/financial, corporate and community. There will be 32 teams total who will participate in four qualifying rounds. The final four teams, the champions from each bracket, will compete against each other to determine who is the ultimate spelling champion in Northeast Ohio.

Do you want to participate in the spelling bee? You will be in good company with teams from great organizations like Lubrizol, Eaton, BakerHostetler, and Thompson Hine. We are in the process of registering teams now. Registration forms and a flyer can be found here. Want more information about the event? Contact Elaine Yeip at eyeip@literacycooperative.org. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we will be using #CLEBEE to share up-to-date information about the event.