Literacy Delaware

1/21/2021 Sussex County Health Coalition.

By Cynthia E. Shermeyer, Executive Director, Literacy Delaware

What is your favorite holiday memory from 2020? For eight-year-old Camilla, it was sitting with her mother and listening with delight as her mom read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in English.

For 38 years Literacy Delaware has worked tirelessly to empower adults like Camilla’s mom to reach their goals and improve their lives AND the lives of their families. For Camilla’s mom, her goal was reading this famous Christmas poem to her daughter. For other learners, it is fi lling out a job application in English to obtain employment or getting their driver’s license to expand their opportunities. Our services have helped many adults in need reach their goals, yet there are still many in Delaware who face the challenge of low literacy.

Literacy in the 21st century involves more than just reading and writing. It is “the ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of profi ciency  necessary to function on the job and in society, achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential.”(National Coalition for Literacy) Profi ciency in reading, writing, math and speaking English facilitates making informed choices, advocating for one’s needs, holding a living-wage job, improving health outcomes, and engaging as citizens. (ProLiteracy) Literacy  impacts every societal problem: health, education, success, justice, housing, racism, poverty. Children whose parents have low literacy, have a 72% chance of having low literacy themselves. How is it possible that 130 million (54%) adults in the U.S. lack profi ciency in reading, essentially reading below the 6th grade level? (

Many residents right here in Sussex County face these same challenges. Over half (58%) lack profi ciency in literacy while two-thirds (69%) lack basic numeracy skills. Our state feels the eff ects of lost tax revenue, increased healthcare costs, recidivism, and children not reading at grade level.

Literacy Delaware off ers a path forward for these adults in need in Sussex County. We off er one to one individualized instruction by trained volunteer tutors. We pride ourselves on measuring outcomes and ensuring success, with over 90% of learner goals achieved each year.

We are excited to announce that we are expanding our reach and role throughout the state, especially in Sussex County. New community partnerships will generate an increase in services to adults and an increase in volunteer tutors. With our new strategic plan, newly expanded and committed board of directors, and the passion and dedication of staff and volunteers, we are poised to make an even greater diff erence in the lives Sussex County families.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the greatest weapon we have to change the world”. Join us -as a partner, donor, or volunteer-to help us change the lives of adults and families in need in Delaware one word at a time!