The mission of Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is to empower adult learners by increasing their literacy skills, improving opportunity through reading, and enhancing a culture of literacy within our community.

High levels of functional illiteracy among adults are known to create socioeconomic challenges for Maine citizens, such as poverty and homelessness. Population census data for Waldo County indicates that, within Maine, it ranks 4th for “children living in poverty” @ 24.4%  (from County Rankings website) and 5th for persons living below poverty level at 16.4 %  (2009-2013)

Literacy Facts:

Literacy In Waldo County

  • One out of 13 residents (or about 3,000 residents) lacks basic literacy skills *
  • According to the literacy fast facts from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), literacy is defined as "using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

Literacy In The United States***

  • One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.
  • Literacy is learned. Illiteracy is  often passed along by parents who cannot read or write.
  • 36 million adults in the United States can’t read well enough to complete a job application.
    • 14% read at or below a 5th grade reading level
    • 29% only read at the 8th grade level
  • Among those with lowest literacy rates, 43% live in poverty
  • Patients with low literacy skills have a 50 percent increased risk of hospitalization. 
  • 14.5% of American adults with low literacy skills are unemployed.
  • 90% of welfare recipients have not graduated from high school.

* 2012 data from County Health Rankings.org, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program.
** Based on 2015 estimates of Waldo County population of 38,940
***(from Begintoread.com

What does "lacking" basic prose literacy mean?

Those lacking basic literacy skills do not have the skills/abilities to:
  • read and understand information in short, commonplace prose texts
  • read and understand information in simple documents
  • locate easily identifiable quantitative information and using it to solve simple, one-step problems when the arithmetic operation is specified or easily inferred
  • determine from a pamphlet for prospective jurors an explanation of how people were selected for the jury pool
  • use a television guide to find out what programs are on at a specific time
  • compare the ticket prices for two events


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