More than 44,000 people in the Rockford area don’t have a high school diploma or GED.
Research shows a high number of uneducated adults translates to elevated crime rates and increasing prison populations.
The National Institute for Literacy reports adult illiteracy costs the country billions each year.
It estimates, 60% of inmates in U.S. prisons can’t read or write a letter. 70% of state prison inmates never finished high school.
That’s why the Literacy Council in Rockford offers free programs to people in Winnebago, Boone and Ogle Counties.
“That’s our roll, to help them read, so they can get a better job or help their child with reading in school their homework,” Executive Director of the Literacy Council Sheryl Thogerson said.
The non-profit offers one-on-one tutoring for adults, English as a second language classes.and various computer programs.
“There are many adults who come through our doors who never learned to read past the 3rd or 4th grade,” Thogerson said.
Thogerson says people are often hesitant to seek help because they’re embarrassed they can’t read. The Literacy Council has tutors who work with people of all reading levels and they’re always looking for more volunteers.
“We have a lot of learners who are looking for tutors and we it’s been difficult to find those extras that we need, so it’s so rewarding to be a tutor and help a learner who is struggling with our English language or just struggling to get a new job or help their children in school and so forth,” Thogerson said.
They are also looking for volunteer reading mentors for “I read”, a program that matches adults with kindergartners.
For more information on how you can help, contact the Literacy Council.