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State of American Literacy Report Identifies Critical Needs

Monday, 18 April 2022 15:20

State of American Literacy Report Findings

The new State of American Literacy Report, by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, identifies critical literacy needs. The report, which includes surveys and interviews with more than 1,200 students, parents, teachers, adult learners and experts in adult and youth literacy from October to December 2021, underscores the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on literacy learning for both adults and youth K-12. This disruption has impacted access to quality instruction, remediation and intervention. Low literacy was already an issue prior to the pandemic, with more than 40 million adults in the U.S. possessing low literacy skills and youth reading levels stagnating.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Literacy Skills are Critical for Success: Students, parents, teachers and principals all view reading and writing well as the single most important factor to a child’s success in life, ahead of other factors like technology skills.
  • More Students are Struggling: Nearly three quarters of teachers surveyed indicated they were teaching more students now who have difficulty reading than before the pandemic.
  • Lack of Staffing is a Challenge: Among K-12 educators, a lack of staffing – particularly of reading specialists and tutors – ranked among the top challenges faced, along with lack of professional development.
  • Flexible Support for Adults is Needed: Adult learners struggle to fit improving reading into their work and life schedules – and are looking for more accessible and flexible solutions.
  • Improving Reading and Writing Became Harder: For adults, the ability to improve reading and writing skills is among the top issues made worse by the pandemic.
  • A Technology Silver Lining: Many instructors have become more adept at virtual instruction, and thus new tailored tools now exist for online and blended learning that are well-suited for the busy schedules of adults and parents and their children, opening the door for increased access.

A Commitment to Support Literacy Advancement

On the heels of its State of American Literacy Report, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation remains committed to strategic investments and grantmaking for students and educators across four key impact areas:

  • Professional Development: Investments geared toward helping instructors more efficiently address literacy issues in classroom and small-group literacy instruction for youth and adults.
  • Accessible Adult Learning: Delivery of high-quality literacy instruction that is available at times convenient for adult learners. This may include in-person and/or online instruction and technology-enabled solutions.
  • High-Quality Reading Instruction: Access to high-quality reading instruction through grants, particularly in rural communities that may lack access to technology and other services.
  • Volunteer Tutors: Investment in efforts to recruit, train, and place volunteer tutors within literacy programs in K-12 and adult literacy programs.

Taking Action with Nearly $5 Million in Immediate Grants

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation will provide approximately $5 million in grants across five national organizations focused on advancing literacy instruction and access, developing learning tools and technology and providing professional development for instructors:

  • Save the Children
  • Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
  • DonorsChoose
  • Discovery Education in Partnership with National Afterschool Association
  • Children’s Defense Fund

Dollar General and Literacy

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is currently accepting applications for youth literacy grants through Thursday, May 19, 2022, until 10 p.m. CT. Grant applications may be found online at