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Community Foundation to Invest $1 Million in Literacy Initiatve

Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF) announced this morning that it will be investing at least $1 million into the Literacy 2030 initiative to provide grants during the next three years to organizations focused on educational attainment and literacy improvement.

CCCF launched the Literacy 2030 program in 2011 to unite literacy service providers, educators, business leaders, legislators and passionate volunteers under an admittedly aspirational vision– reaching 100 percent literacy in the Midlands of South Carolina by the year 2030. The initiative works to connect, equip and support these stakeholders for the journey.

The statistics related to literacy in the Midlands are staggering. According to Literacy Powerline LLC:

  • 19 percent of Midlands adults (152,000 people) are functionally illiterate.
  • 20 percent of Midlands area public high school students do not graduate on time.
  • In South Carolina, a student drops out of high school every 11 seconds.
  • The earnings gap between a high school graduate and non-graduate in South Carolina is $7,476 per year.
  • If the current population of Midlands dropouts were to complete their high school education, they would collectively earn $778,460,928 more per year, resulting in $54,492,265 in additional state tax revenue each year.
  • Corporate productivity is largely determined by the education level of workers. In manufacturing industries, increasing the average employee education by only one more year of school leads to an 8.5 percent increase in productivity. In nonmanufacturing industries, productivity increases by 12.7 percent.
  • A one-year increase of schooling for adults in South Carolina could have prevented 1,048 murders, 613 assaults, 215 burglaries and 43 larcenies in 2011. These preventable crimes from FY2011 will end up costing South Carolina more than $488 million.

In the summer of 2011, Literacy 2030 began a regional planning process to bring the community together to address the issue of low literacy – an issue so large that no one organization can solve it alone. The Foundation worked with the national organization Literacy Powerline to assist in this process. The six month process of focus groups and meetings with literacy service providers resulted in a regional literacy plan based upon two reports produced by Literacy Powerline and a third by the University of South Carolina. All the reports are available both here and on the Literacy 2030 website.

“Central Carolina Community Foundation is investing in education in order to improve low literacy and low educational attainment statistics in the Midlands and across South Carolina,” said JoAnn Turnquist, CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “Like other businesses in the community, we’re focused on having the greatest return on our investment. A vibrant economy is reliant on a pool of skilled employees. If children can’t read by fourth grade, how will they become engineers and nurses?”

Central Carolina Community Foundation is building a Literacy 2030 roadmap and strategic plan. Some of the indicators that will illustrate their progress with the campaign include:

  • Number of children aged 3 and up enrolled in pre-school or kindergarten.
  • Number of children enrolled in pre-school summer learning programs.
  • Number of students graduating on time from public high schools.
  • Number of unfilled jobs in the Midlands.
  • Students enrolled in college or certification programs.

“We believe that we are uniquely positioned to bring the community together to achieve our goal,” said Turnquist. “By leveraging our funds with those from corporations, foundations and individuals, we will have a multiplier effect. Our knowledge of existing and available programs and our ability to analyze success will help investors increase their return on investment and their impact on the community.”

Central Carolina Community Foundation’s partners in this effort are the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, AT&T, the Boeing Corporation, Colonial Life and Wells Fargo.

For more information about Literacy 2030, visit www.literacy2030.org.