Adult Literacy Can Impact Employment Opportunities

By Lora Painter | June 28, 2022

Kalamazoo, Mich. — Experts warn one’s literacy level can impact their job prospects, as a result, also impact businesses’ ability to hire qualified and competent employees.

Research from the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) shows in Kalamazoo County, 25,000 adults (1 in 8) live with low literacy levels that create challenges for them in everyday activities, such as filling out a job application, reading a prescription label, or helping their children learn.

Organizations like the KLC are here to help.

“Empowered learners make better employees and build the best businesses,” Rose Fetzer, Adult Learning Services Navigator at KLC.

“When we say, ‘Everyone needs to read to excel at work,’ we mean that employees are empowered when they have the literacy skills to navigate through their careers,” Fetzer said.

New artwork by local illustrator/designer Paul Sizer for The Kalamazoo Literacy Council. (Courtesy: Paul Sizer and The Kalamazoo Literacy Council).

Fetzer also leads its Workforce Literacy efforts which include the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills program.

“Applying, interviewing, understanding benefits, and completing job tasks all require the knowledge and confidence that comes from having the necessary reading and writing skills,” Fetzer said.

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council will host the 11th Kalamazoo SCRABBLE Fest on August 6, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel.

Organizers say this event helps raise awareness of adult literacy as well as raise funds to strengthen and expand basic literacy services for adults who struggle to read.

“The Kalamazoo SCRABBLE Fest is a fun way to support literacy and language services for adults throughout Kalamazoo County,” KLC Executive Director Michael D. Evans said.

100% of event proceeds directly benefit KLC learners and volunteer tutors in 30 sites across the region.

The KLC’s impact is being felt by students and teachers.

“The best thing about working with the KLC is they’re good at their jobs and they keep things running smoothly. They let learners participate in programs like helping to lead our weekly Health Literacy class,” says JJ Menter, adult learner studying with the KLC since September 2020.

Mentor works with two volunteer tutors on a regular basis. One of them is Kathy Hays, who teaches Level 1 writing at the KLC.

“Volunteering at KLC as a writing coach is a very enriching experience not only for the learners I have guided, but for myself. My awareness, compassion and admiration for these hard working students grow with each weekly session. As I see learners’ confidence and skills improve, their goals and dreams become reality. With adequate funding, KLC will continue to provide the opportunity for County residents who struggle with literacy attain their true potential, and that’s good for all of us.” Kathy Hays, Level 1 Writing Instructor with KLC.

Scrabble Fest will be a hybrid event, meaning we’ll be in-person but there is a virtual option for those who wish to play online.

Players choose either the “Competitive” or “Just for Fun” category, and we encourage all skill levels to participate.

Organizations can sponsor a 4-player team to play on their behalf.

“This event raises awareness about the cause of adult literacy and helps adult learners and their families receive the support they need to reach their academic, professional, and personal goals,” Evans said.

Game play follows official SCRABBLE rules.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three players of each category and to the winners of the Cage Match rounds. Online players will be entered into a raffle for prizes.

Scrabble Fest welcomes players aged 16 and up. In-person registration fees are $25 per person ($30 at the door) or $200 per corporate team. Fees include hors d’oeuvres and game materials. Advanced registration includes a t-shirt. Cash bar is available. Online gaming fees are $5 for up to three submissions or $25 for unlimited submissions.

Registration deadline is July 22, 2022.

Additionally, the KLC is asking for sponsorships, which range from $50 Letter Sponsors to $5,000 Presenting Sponsors and in-kind donations for prizes. it also welcome volunteers to serve as judges, timers, and for set up/clean up.

To register, learn more, sign up to volunteer, and for online play instructions visit the Scrabble Fest website or call (269) 382-0490 ext. 211.

The KLC provides free literacy services tailored to the goals of native English speakers and English language learners, empowering them to reach their full potential.

The KLC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide free quality literacy education that enhances the lives of adults through programs designed to increase reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension skills. The KLC offers free tutoring and materials once a learner’s needs and goals have been evaluated.

The KLC is supported in part by grants from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Region 8 Southwest Michigan Prosperity Committee, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, and other generous supporters.

Editor’s note: Editor’s note: This story is part of a partnership with Southwest Michigan First‘s “First & 42” digital news platform. Additional stories can be found on News Channel 3’s First and 42 web page.

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