Tag Archive for: The Literacy Cooperative

Our Inaugural CLE-BEE was a Great Success!


On Thursday, September 8th, 2016, 24 teams representing companies and organizations from Northeast Ohio came together for an exciting and friendly spelling competition to raise awareness about literacy.

Our Inaugural Corporate Spelling Bee, CLE-BEE, was a year in the making. We wanted to create a fun event where members of the community could get together for a fun night where they would learn more about the important work we do. (Throughout this blog we included some of the words from the night.  See if you can find them!)

Guests and teams began arriving at 5:00 pm. As they were mingling and enjoying their appetizers and drinks, many took part in our International Literacy Day selfie station. Since September 8th was also International Literacy Day we encouraged people to share a book, author or genre they recommended for others to read. We had a number of great pictures including from one of our readers, Mike Snyder as well as Mayor Frank Jackson and County Executive Armond Budish! We also set up a selfie station for individuals to cheer on their favorite CLE-BEE teams! Here are some of the fun social media posts.

The event convoked with a welcome speech and reading of the rules by our special guest emcee Betsy Kling, Chief Meteorologist for WKYC Channel 3. She made sure everyone was excited and ready for the competition. Our Executive Director, Bob Paponetti, thanked our sponsors Key Bank and The Lubrizol Corporation as well as our event partners, The City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Magazine, Goldfarb Weber Creative Media, ideastream, WKYC, WTAM, and Zimmer Design. Our board president Beth Grove introduced our new video that highlights our work and our goals.

Mayor Frank Jackson gave a wonderful speech about how literacy has impacted his life. By sharing his own personal story, he gave the attendees an example of what persevering can do and how overcoming the hurdle of illiteracy is not an impossible task. It can be done with
help, success can be achieved and an impact can be made. He ended his speech by presenting Bob with an official proclamation celebrating our ten year anniversary.speeches-college-for-blog

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish gave another fantastic speech about the impact literacy has on jobs and how important early literacy is to the success and growth of our community. It was a great speech to round out the welcomes and remind people of the real purpose of the event, which was to raise awareness about literacy and its impact on our community.

Once the speeches were done it was time for the competition to begin! Swarm one was the Finance round. This round consisted of the following teams: Ciuni & Panichi, Inc., Corrigan Krause /CMS Management Solutions, Key Bank, Newmark Grubb Frank Knight, Oswald Companies and United Way of Greater Cleveland. The teams did a great job staying focused and had aplomb, taking some time before the first team was eliminated. At the end, Oswald Companies emerged the victors of the first swarm and moved on to the final round.

Competition continued to move on with swarm two, the Legal Teams. The competitors were Baker Hostelter, Benesch Fiedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Frantz Ward, Thompson Hine, Ulmer & Berne LLP, and The City Club of Cleveland. The teams battled it out in the longest round of the evening.  In the end Baker Hostetler was victorious, appearing to be cognoscentes of spelling and moving on to the final round.

Swarm three was the Corporate round. The teams competing were from Eaton Corporation, Goldfarb Weber Creative Media, Cleveland Leadership Center, Lincoln Electric, The Lubrizol Corporation, and WKYC Channel 3. It was another tough round with a gallimaufry of words, but Eaton Corporation emerged the winners and moved to the finals.

The last qualifying swarm in this English orthography was the Community round. This last group was from Broadway Slavic Village My Com/P16 (supported by Third Federal Foundation), Case Elementary, CMSD (supported by Jones Day), Cleveland Metropolitan School District (sponsored by Key Bank), Cleveland State University (sponsored by Lubrizol), Cuyahoga Community College and Northeast Ohio Able. Tri-C dominated the round and moved on!swarm-pic-blog

Betsy Kling welcomed our final four teams, Baker Hostetler, Eaton Corporation, Oswald Companies and Tri-C. She read the rules of the final round and revealed that this was a sudden death round. One wrong answer and you were out.

But our judge (The Honorable Judge Russo) added to the frisson of the evening and called for a vote on this sudden death rule. As he stated in his court, the jury decides on the outcome of a case and he thought the audience and teams should decide on the rules for the final round. He called for an audience vote and although they voted to keep the sudden death rule, he decided to not homologate it and reinstated the rule to give all teams two chances. It was a great start to the lively round!

The final round was a tough one, these weren’t simple words to spell. After a fierce round of competition full of debates between team members, immalleable spirits, and intense scribbling, erasing and rewriting, we had our champions, Baker Hostetler!

This great event would not have been possible without the involvement of a number of people and organizations. We want to thank Key Bank and The Lubrizol Corporation for sponsoring the event. A huge thank you to Betsy Kling for being our emcee, Michael Snyder and Monyka Price for being our readers and The Honorable Judge Russo for being our judge. And a big thank you to all of the companies and organizations that competed; without you we would not have enjoyed so many people cachinnating.

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!

Elizabeth Poulos, Our Summer Intern, Reflects on Her Time with The Literacy Cooperative

Liz blog postElizabeth Poulos interned with The Literacy Cooperative from May to July of this year (2016) as part of the Williams Alumni Internship Grant. The Williams Alumni Internship Grant is designed to allow students to engage in constructive and innovative projects which address significant needs, link knowledge and structural change within society. Ms. Poulos will be a sophomore at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

As part of her intern experience she worked on projects related to our early literacy initiatives. In the following piece she reflects on what she learned about the literacy crisis in our city as well as the important role literacy programs, like our program STEP, play in connecting the city to tools and resources needed to fight this crisis.

“Some Cleveland neighborhoods like Hough, Fairfax, Central, and Kinsman, have functional illiteracy rates as high as 95%.” I first came in contact with this statistic about a month into my internship at The Literacy Cooperative, when I was compiling literacy facts for their upcoming Corporate Spelling Bee. When I first read this I was surprised, not only by the gravity of the situation, but also its extent in neighborhoods with which I was familiar. How does one approach a problem when it was so widespread?

The more statistics I read, the more dwarfed my efforts as an intern felt in the face of the giant odds when fighting for literacy in Cleveland. Yet, upon further reflection, I realized that as someone working at a nonprofit, as someone fighting for a cause, you can’t let the statistics get the best of you. Yes, these statistics are incredibly helpful, and they can mark meaningful reform and progress being made in literacy policy in Northeast Ohio; but the moment when I felt most connected to the issue of literacy, and progress being made in the city, was when I read the survey responses of kids who had taken part in the STEP reading intervention program with the help of support from their school and The Literacy Cooperative. I had been learning a lot about the STEP program by reading about it on our website, rethinking the pamphlet we use about STEP, cutting and organizing different STEP packets, but nothing compared to the insight I got about STEP, and literacy efforts here in Cleveland, than the responses of those young scholars.

STEP, or Supporting Tutors Engaging Pupils, is a supplementary reading intervention tutoring program that TLC shepherded into the system’s of several Northeast Ohio schools, like George Washington Carver. STEP helps students by giving them a chance to practice reading, and to build their literacy skills with tutors who have been provided with the structure and tools to help their scholar’s soar. Although not all the scholar responses were positive (often STEP time infringes on the oh-so-popular recess time), what I sensed in every survey was the receptiveness, and eagerness of each student to try: to try and read, to try to learn, to try and build the literacy skills they will use for life. For many of these students, STEP helped meet this eagerness with quality tools and programming that provided clear positive results. What became clear to me was not that we need to work harder as a movement to get the scholars excited and eager to learn, but that the real challenge lies in providing the same level of energy in the resources they are given to improve their literacy, to give them the best possible tools to make those improvements. And that’s what The Literacy Cooperative does, and I think that’s what I found to be my true goal in my time there as an intern; to help the organization, and to help connect literacy efforts around the city with the tools and resources they need to make a real difference.

There is Still Time to Beat the Summer Slide

Summer Slide blogThe summer is winding down. How have you spent these warm weeks? On a family vacation? Taking walks in the park, playing at the beach? Going to festivals or amusement parks? How about reading together or doing a handful of math problems with your child once a day?

Don’t let the summer end without helping your child beat the Summer Slide. There is still plenty of time to prepare for the coming school year.

The Summer Slide refers to how over the summer months young people lose academic skills and progress gained over the school year. The Summer Slide particularly affects children of low-income families. During the summer, low-income students lose on average more than two months of reading achievement. By the end of fifth grade, low-income children are nearly three grade equivalents behind their higher-income peers in reading.

So, what can be done to defy these statistics and be prepared for the coming school year? Take a trip to the library and take out a number of books you can read together. Find books covering a range of topics from fiction to nonfiction. Spend at least 20 minutes a day reading these books together. It can be before bed, in the morning, during lunch or while in the waiting room of a doctor or dentist. Why not spend a summer afternoon reading outside in the shade of a tree?

Reading doesn’t have to be from a book. During breakfast you can read the back of a cereal box together. You can even use this time to discuss the nutritional information and talk about healthy eating. While you are driving you can read road signs. You can go over shapes and colors of the signs with younger children as well.

summer slide blog (books)    The summer is a great time to get children outside and active. You can create reading games, such as a vocabulary scavenger hunt. Label items throughout your yard or hide certain words in the trees and bushes. Have you child run about finding all the words and then use them to create sentences and stories. They are active and learning at the same time!

It doesn’t take much time to help your child to be prepared to start school. Reading with them for at least 20 minutes a day is a simple way to help fight the Summer Slide.


May 26th, 2016 PechaKucha Event: An Evening of Learning About the Great Literacy Programs In and Around Cleveland

On Thursday, May 26th, 2016, The Literacy Cooperative in collaboration with the Cleveland Bridge Builders, Class of 2016, coordinated a PechaKucha event. PechaKucha means chit chat in Japanese and is an event where presenters present 20 slides, each for 20 seconds, on a chosen topic.

The topic for our PechaKucha event was, “Helping to Improve Awareness and Literacy Education in Northeast Ohio.” There were seven presenters from eight different organizations around Cleveland who presented on their literacy based programs that combine literature, learning, and literacy with other fun activities. Presenters included: our Executive Director Bob Paponetti, who spoke about the history of The Literacy Cooperative and the work that we do, as well as, Elizabeth Geisse from America SCORES Cleveland, Pam Jankowski with Cuyahoga County Library in partnership with Parma City School District, Debi Abela from University Circle Incorporated, Mahogani Graves with Reach Out and Read/ Ready to Learn at MetroHealth, Daniel Hahn from Playhouse Square and Judi Kovach with Kids Book Bank.

The event was a great way to inform the community about programs and initiatives that incorporate literacy in unique ways that help both children and their families learn. The PechaKucha format provided a way to explore a number of different programs in one evening, giving the community a broad look at all the great work that is being done around our city to advance literacy.

Or click on the video below to watch the full event.


Want to learn more about the programs and organizations that participated? Check out some of our guest posts here on our blog. Or follow each of the organizations on their social media pages:


University Circle- Twitter and Facebook

America SCORES Cleveland- Twitter and Facebook

Reach Out and Read/ Ready to Learn at MetroHealth – Twitter and Facebook

Playhouse Square – Twitter and Facebook

Cuyahoga County Public Library – Twitter and Facebook 

Kids Book Bank – Twitter and Facebook

Parma City School District – Twitter and Facebook

The Literacy Cooperative – Twitter and Facebook