Behind the Grant: Seeds of Literacy

Two adults in literacy tutoring workshop at Seeds of Literacy Cleveland

Guest blog post from Seeds of Literacy

Did you read the latest election coverage? For that, thank your literacy skills.

When your child was sick, could you measure 1.5 teaspoons of cough syrup to help her feel better? High-five those literacy skills again.

When we say that 84% of adults in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side are functionally illiterate, and have reading, language, or math skills around a 4th-grade level or lower, do you understand how large 84% is?

Literacy skills touch all aspects of our lives; some of us are lucky to only imagine what lacking these skills feels like. For many adults in Cleveland — 66%, in fact — low literacy skills are a daily reality, making it hard to understand health care instructions, bus schedules and job applications.

That’s why Seeds of Literacy exists: to provide free, flexible and individualized basic education and GED test preparation to adults. With increased literacy skills, adults are more empowered to create and seize life’s opportunities.

Man works on literacy exercises at Seeds of Literacy in ClevelandSeeds of Literacy opened its east side location in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in September 2014. With funding from the Cleveland Foundation and others, we’ve duplicated our award-winning program to provide personalized curricula and one-to-one tutoring, all completely free to students.

Cleveland has a serious need for adult literacy programs, but that shouldn’t overshadow the resiliency and determination of people with low literacy skills. Many adults in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood eagerly enroll at Seeds to further their education. Classes at Seeds East are often at-capacity, and we are expanding to meet student demand.

This is great news, because increased adult literacy levels have wide-reaching benefits.

Yoko, a recent GED graduate at Seeds East, delighted in how she and her kids could now do homework together. She’s right to celebrate: of all possible factors, the greatest determinant of a child’s future academic success is her mother’s reading skill. If we want to ensure our children have a bright tomorrow, let’s help a mother increase her skills today.

Workforce development is a current concern, as U.S. adults lag behind the rest of the world in workforce skills. But what are workforce skills? Literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving — the very skills adults are learning every day at Seeds of Literacy.

Low adult literacy underpins almost every societal concern, from poverty and incarceration to food security and employability. But there is always hope, and adult education backs that hope.

Championing adult literacy, like the Cleveland Foundation has done through Seeds of Literacy, provides a multitude of positive outcomes for Cleveland — and for the hardworking people who give this city its heart.


  1. Creola Rice

    This is a great representation of the work done by Seeds of Literacy. Keep up the momentum it is needed and appreciated!

  2. Diane Ferri

    I have been a volunteer tutor at Seeds for two years and it is a wonderful and dedicated organization, helping and supporting people every day.

  3. Beverly Fleming

    Education is empowerment! Seeds of Literacy offers a wonderful environment of encouragement and learning. As a tutor I am always blessed by being there. Thank you to the teachers and staff, and the students for reaching for the “hand up”!

  4. Cheryl Weaver

    I am proud to be a volunteer at Seeds of Literacy. It is an important and very good thing that we do.

  5. John Dubecky

    I support the work of Seeds because of the great need in this city. We need workers to reverse the trends in this great nation and it is grass roots efforts by the volunteers in the Seeds programs that change lives and change the world. If you want change in this world you need to be the change. Volunteer if you can more are always needed.

  6. Mary McDonnell

    Seeds of Literacy is my favorite Volunteer Opportunity , and I have MANY. The students are so inspiring and the staff is so professional and supportive. Lives change here every day, those of the students and the volunteers.

  7. Jeanne Silver

    It is the best thing offered in Cleveland. At no cost. The administration is amazing. They are the glue that make us shine.

  8. Emmie Hutchison

    Seeds of Literacy is an incredible organization, and its staff is truly dedicated to their mission. They shared that mission, and the great need for adult literacy programming in our community, with youth volunteers in Lakewood last year. I know they made a great impact on the hearts and minds of the hundreds of students who heard their staff speak.

  9. Lynne Rambasel

    Really enjoy doing the tutoring at seeds of Literacy. I feel privileged to be of help Lynn Rambasek

  10. Pam

    Well done to the administration and the tireless volunteers who continue to welcome people into a whole new world. You are change makers and dream givers. Thank you for shining brightly.

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