A literate, educated society is a safer, healthier, and more prosperous society. So promoting reading, writing, and other academic subjects stands as crucial to keeping humanity from wrecking itself before it checks itself.
Local, national, and global initiatives lead the way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity through knowledge. Whether wanting to start one up or to join in an organization or event already in progress, the following organizations can certainly inspire one’s sense of social justice and equality.
- Book drives
The Corporation for National & Community Service featured this initiative by an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow and California’s Sonoma County blending literacy promotion and neighborhood nurturing. Through book drives, 75 schools and families received generously stocked shelves in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
- Better World Books
If Amazon were a nonprofit, it’d be Better World Books; shoppers here can buy new and used reads from the site itself — or libraries, schools, and charities needing the money. Some of its offerings serve as matching services, where the purchase of one item means a donation of a book to literacy causes around the world.
- Internet Archive
One of the largest libraries in the world sits right online, offering completely free books, movies, music, software, archived websites, and other documents. For the tech-savvy and/or time-and-cash-strapped individual or institution, this makes an ideal resource when encouraging kids and adults to find interesting and wholly convenient reads.
- Enlightening the Hearts
Ghanaian schools tend to emphasize English and marginalize the many native tongues spoken there, despite evidence that bilingual students absorb languages much faster when learned in tandem. The Olinga Foundation for Human Development responded to this discrepancy by offering classes in Twi and other indigenous languages — which just so happened to improve fluency in both them and English.
- National Braille Press
Braille literacy declines worldwide due to the availability of more assistive technologies than ever before, but it still holds numerous benefits, particularly in situations where audio isn’t working or available. National Braille Press publishes books for adults and children with the hopes of keeping the system perpetually available and ensuring it survives to serve the visually impaired for generations to come.
This Emmy-winning adult education program covers more academic subjects than just vocabulary and writing, though its strategies remain similar across the board. Pop culture-savvy, accessible videos cover literacy topics like grammar, essay and creative writing, the GED, word structure, and dictionaries and thesauruses for a well-rounded glimpse at language.
- Poetry, Objects and Children’s Voices
Despite this project’s adherence to the British National Curriculum, many of its core ideas and tenets work across cultural boundaries. Poetry, Objects and Children’s Voices fosters literacy and creative writing using poetry and objects from the Open Museum’s collections; such a concept adapts extremely well to different classrooms with different resources.
- Bringing in a Doggie
University of Alberta’s Lori Friesen discovered that incorporating her canine companions Sparky and Tango into literacy lessons meant participating students displayed higher competence when testing their skills. Much of this likely stems from how the dogs inspired them to relax with their warmth and nonjudgment, rendering it easier for concepts to ultimately stick.
LitWorld has partnered with We Give Books to encourage Navajo families to read together, spear Global Read Aloud Day, host book clubs for girls and boys, crowdsource poetry with contributors from around the world, and provide plenty of other engaging education projects. In addition, their core principals take pains to make the needs of and opportunities for female students — who remain demoted through much of the world — completely equal to their male peers.
- Center for Applied Special Technology
Establishing a Universal Design for Learning exists as the Center for Applied Special Technology’s ultimate goal, and the nonprofit serves as a think tank meant to make equitable education a possibility for students of all needs, abilities, and age groups. Among the goals researched and developed sit nurturing language, literacy, and writing skills, and professionals network over the Internet and in meat-space to develop the most viable possible strategies.
- International Reading Association
More than 70,000 International Reading Association members use the organization as a valuable network for literacy professionals to meet and exchange ideas regarding the furthering of necessary writing, reading, and speaking abilities. Multiple initiatives stem directly from its meetings and conferences, including International Literacy Day, a radio network, grants, professional development opportunities, and a slew of others.
- India Literacy Project
Since 1990, the India Literacy Project’s money and time have gone toward one giant, excruciatingly noble cause — to see the entire nation boast a 100% literacy rate. To get there, they partner with the government, private sector, and eager volunteers alike to reach out to isolated and rural children and adults who may not enjoy access to the educational resources needed to get ahead; this also includes sustainability and community involvement programming.
English may have all but rendered the Irish language extinct, but innovative Gaeltacht communities have sprung up in Ireland, Scotland, and Canada to ensure its survival as a written and verbalized tongue. Residents here speak it as their primary language (almost all of them attain fluency in English), and this devotion to preserving its ancient heritage carries over into the schools, where kids and teens learn to read literature (and everything else) in Irish.
- Books for Africa
Think of this as an international drive addressing the “book famine” in African schools, libraries, and orphanages. Books for Africa also collects technology and other supplies for classrooms nurturing far more than just literacy, though reading remains its primary concern.
- Project Gutenberg
Another amazing and entirely gratis resource for anyone seeking public domain books and essays both wildly popular and woefully (or, in some cases, rightfully) obscure, available both online, offline, and for ebook readers. With more than 38,000 reads available, anyone hoping to promote literacy has plenty of age-appropriate reads at his or her disposal.
- Manga Shakespeare
Comic books build literacy acumen in young readers, and this critically-lauded series builds off that knowledge to get teens close to The Bard’s most embraced classics. William Shakespeare’s writing style isn’t the most accessible to all high schoolers, and allowing them to visualize it through a manga-inspired filter makes it easy for them to understand the rich narratives and hopefully explore them further.
- SHARE Literacy Circles
Partnerships between the Canadian International Development Agency and the SHARE Agriculture Foundation brought more than just literacy to economically-deprived areas in El Salvador. Literary circles blend programming in not only reading and writing, but agriculture and entrepreneurship to give citizens opportunities to pursue their own sustainable business dealings.
ProLiteracy hosts programs around the world with the hopes of teaching kids and adults alike about why sharp reading and writing skills are essential to a healthy, happy life. In addition to their basic, GED, ESL, and myriad other offerings, the organization presents training, conferences, and literature meant to encourage anyone hoping to advocate for literacy across language barriers.
- World Book Day
None other than UNESCO itself established this global initiative to get kids reading some seriously cool books in their native tongues, with a website chock full of games, communities, and other activities to supplement the “main course,” as it were. Participants also receive free and discounted books thanks to a voucher system, and online and in-person events and contests round out the festivities.
- Education Alliance for Asia Literacy
Based in Australia, this organization brings together businesses, educational institutions, and communities together to encourage the Anglophonic to better understand the cultures and languages of the continent to their immediate north. The 24 participating initiatives believe that dispelling myths and encouraging students in the “East” and “West” to understand the others’ native tongues might better foster geopolitical relations.
- The International Dyslexia Association
Many students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities already face marginalization in mainstream classrooms, often suffering from the thoroughly boneheaded belief that their diagnosis renders them illiterate. Enter this fantastic nonprofit; it reaches out to educators, teachers, parents, communities and — of course — dyslexic kids and adults to establish safe, nurturing spaces for them to strengthen their literacy skills and experience less persecution.
- Room to Read
Children throughout impoverished corners of Asia and Africa have benefited immensely from Room to Read’s programs in literacy and providing equal academic opportunities across gender lines. Because literacy directly reduces poverty and death rates, their offerings focus on stocking libraries with books in local tongues as well as English, publishing unique reads relevant to served cultures, teaming up with governments to address education gaps, and plenty more.
- The Great Mystery Literacy Project
Bill Lord trained teachers at Open University in The Great Mystery Literacy Project, which encourages literacy using the clue-finding components of the beloved genre. Creative educators can easily find ways to incorporate other familiar literary tropes — perhaps in kid-favorite science-fiction and fantasy tales — into literary lesson plans.
- Gulf Coast Reads
Public libraries and colleges worldwide occasionally initiate city-wide reading events, such as Houston’s annual Gulf Coast Reads (formerly Books on the Bayou), featuring either local authors or national and international superstars. Specific programming obviously varies from host to host, with everything from speakers and readings to culturally relevant exhibitions illustrating how literacy overlaps with other subjects.
- National Adult Literacy Database
Touted as “Canada’s Literacy and Essential Skills Network,” this nonprofit hopes to bolster literacy rates in both English and French by compiling together as many events, peoples, and organizations as they can and sharing research and ideas. Doing so will ensure the nation’s inadequately literate adults receive state-of-the-art assistance and eventually enjoy opportunities otherwise closed to them.