National Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week will be celebrated September 24-30 this year. The National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) created AEFL Week to raise public awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy.
AEFL Week is the perfect time for literacy advocates and organizations to engage policymakers, donors, the media, and their communities in making literacy a priority. Make the most of this opportunity, and use the time now to start planning how your organization will recognize AEFL Week.
Make the most of this opportunity to raise awareness of the need for adult education and language services. Here are some suggested activities to get started:
1. Plan an event or hold a news conference to commemorate AEFL week or International Literacy Day. Invite the news media, key elected officials, political candidates (federal, state, and local), students, donors, and the public.
2. Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece focusing on AEFL week or International Literacy Day, the importance of adult literacy, and the U.S. adult literacy standing internationally and send it to local news outlets.
3. Research local radio and television talk shows in your area. Contact hosts and make yourself available to discuss adult literacy during AEFL week. Arrange to bring an adult literacy student with you.
4. Contact your governor, mayor, or leading county official and ask him or her to sign an International Literacy Day proclamation (see Samples section).
5. Ask your local library to set up a display of books written by your adult learners. Supply the library with fact sheets.
6. Partner with local companies in your area to display information about AEFL week and/or International Literacy Day and literacy rates throughout the world and in your community. For example:
a. Starbucks has a strong corporate responsibility program that includes support programs in countries from which it purchases coffee. Contact your local Starbucks stores and ask permission to display information about AEFL week, International Literacy Day, and literacy rates. (See “Letter of Introduction” in Samples.)
b. Barnes & Noble also works with organizations in the communities where they have stores. Ask to speak to the individual at the store (or other bookstores in your community) responsible for community relations and discuss ways you can work together to use International Literacy Day and AEFL week to promote the issue of adult literacy.
c. Visit your local Dollar General store and see if they would be willing to display information (posters, fact sheets) about adult literacy. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been a supporter of literacy initiatives since 1993.
7. Set up an information booth about your literacy program in a heavily trafficked area of your local shopping mall. Contact the public relations, marketing, or community relations departments to arrange permission.
8. Organize a “read aloud” event in a mall, store, library, coffee house, or other public location. Have volunteers or learners take turns reading aloud. Call it “A Moment of Reading Aloud— Breaking the Silence About Adult Low Literacy.”
9. Encourage students in your adult literacy, English language learning, and HSE/GED programs to write letters to your community representatives and to Congress about the importance of adult literacy and the need to support adult education. Use ProLiteracy’s advocacy web pages to find contact information for elected officials.
10. Encourage students to visit public officials to discuss the importance of literacy. Be sure to supply them with talking points and information about your organization.
11. Use social media to raise awareness about adult literacy. Find suggested messaging in our AEFL toolkit.