Change Language

Why Community Literacy?

Literacy impacts virtually every other indicator of child and family well-being and represents an area where every organization and member of the community could participate in Evanston Cradle to Careers’ initial collective impact efforts.

Literacy is foundational — without basic literacy not only is academic success undermined, but also employment opportunities, health, housing, self-esteem, and safety.

Evanston Cradle to Career is about collective impact and shared accountability — it is about recognizing that ensuring that our children are literate is a responsibility of our whole community and not the exclusive terrain of our school districts. We are all failing our children and it will take all of us to change it.

  • Vocabulary development by age 3 has been found to predict reading achievement. By age 3, children from wealthier families have typically heard 30 million more words than children from low-income families. (American Federation of Teachers)
  • New data show that children from low-income families have one-fourth the vocabulary of children from wealthier homes. (University of Kansas)
  • Environmental lead exposure can be the deciding factor in whether children of color test into advanced learning programs or are placed in learning-disabled groups. (National Center for Healthy Housing)
  • Students behind in reading at the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
  • 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system have significant reading challenges. (
  • Approximately 70% of adults on welfare have lower literacy levels. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • Illiteracy jeopardizes health by undermining community members’ ability to navigate the health care system, including completing forms, reading medication directions, and following physician instructions. (Journal of General Internal Medicine)
  • Illiteracy significantly undermines employability and contributes to homelessness, and homelessness fundamentally challenges children’s literacy. (US Department of Labor)