Dollar General Literacy Foundation Makes Nearly $5 Million Investment in Literacy Solutions Following New Research Report
Mar 31, 2022
Funding will support national organizations that are advancing instruction, developing technology and providing professional development to drive progress on youth and adult literacy across the United States
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation (DGLF) announced a commitment of approximately $5 million in grants to five national organizations working to address the critical literacy needs identified in its new State of American Literacy Report released today. The grant recipients, including Save the Children, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, DonorsChoose, Discovery Education and the Children’s Defense Fund, are focused on advancing literacy instruction and access, developing learning tools and technology and providing professional development for instructors.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has set back many in their education and literacy learning efforts and threatens to deepen the literacy crisis,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and vice president of corporate social responsibility at Dollar General. “We know the devastating impacts of low literacy on an individual’s quality of life – limiting opportunities for advancement in the workforce, access to higher education, engagement in civic activity, and even effects on health. Through our research we are better able to understand the needs of the field and empower teachers, students and communities to harness the power of literacy and education at this critical juncture.”
State of American Literacy Report Findings
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 to further support students and educators:
- Save the Children: Providing support for in-school and afterschool programming for K-3 students, inclusive of digital book access, training and technical assistance and support for the Rural Library Network.
- Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: A two-year commitment to support implementation of the National Action Plan for Adult Literacy, with a focus on boosting literacy organizations, advancing professional development for teachers and identifying opportunity gaps.
- DonorsChoose: Matching donations on all book-related projects posted by teachers across the U.S. on DonorsChoose.org.
- Discovery Education in Partnership with National Afterschool Association: Launching a no-cost, nationwide literacy platform focused on supporting teachers with research-based micro-learnings, providing standards-aligned resources to advance the application of new strategies, and create equitable access to tools and resources for under-resourced communities, both in and out of school.
- Children’s Defense Fund: Funding the southern expansion of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program, which provides high-quality, culturally responsive academic enrichments to K-12 grade students nationally.
Dollar General and Literacy
Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, was functionally illiterate and never completed a formal education. In 1993, J.L.’s grandson, Cal Turner, Jr., founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor him and support others’ educational journeys. Over the past 28 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has donated more than $203 million to provide funding and resources to support literacy advancement and has helped more than 14.8 million individuals learn to read, prepare for the high school equivalency or learn English. 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 http://www.dgliteracy.org.
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $203 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 14.8 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. Each year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation provides financial support to schools, nonprofit organizations and libraries within a 15-mile radius of Dollar General stores and distribution centers. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation or apply for a literacy grant, visit www.dgliteracy.org.