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National Literacy Action Week (NLAW) occurs the first week in February. During NLAW, campus literacy programs, local activists, and neighborhood groups join together to raise awareness about literacy and create change on their campuses and in their communities.

Throughout its history, SCALE has supported the activist initiatives of campus-based literacy programs across the country. NLAW is a SCALE initiative for strengthening literacy activism.

On February 1, 1960, four black college freshmen in Greensboro, North Carolina sat at the counter of a local Woolworth store and ordered coffee and pie. They were refused service (blacks were allowed to eat only at lunch counters designated for “coloreds”). The students stayed, occupying the seats until closing. The next day they returned with 26 other students. Their action sparked college protests across the South, bringing students into the civil rights movement in dramatic numbers. Later that year, 120 student sit-in leaders from across the South gathered at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, and formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC became one of the most effective and creative components of the civil rights movement. (Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change)

Many students have asked the question, “Why would people out in the ‘real world’ listen to the voices, actions and opinions of college students?” Perhaps the only sensible response to this question is, “Well, why not?” In a democratic society, people have the rights and responsibility (regardless of their age or other identity) to share information and perspectives that can make that society better. College students have good ideas and important things to say. The world needs students to share those good ideas! Students have also asked: “What power do we have? Will people listen to us?” History has shown that students are powerful. And people will listen.

In fact, college students have always been at the forefront of movements for social change. Students were integral to the success of the Civil Rights Movement, as they organized campuses and participated in Freedom Rides, sit-ins and marches. College students also helped lead the anti-war movement against U.S. military engagement in Vietnam. In the 1980’s, students worked to raise national awareness about hunger and homelessness. Currently, students are leading campaigns to combat sexual assault, racism, to improve access for LGTBQ students, faculty and staff on campuses and in communities.

Participating in advocacy, activism and awareness-raising is transformative for students. Engaging in these types of community work is an empowering experience. Students develop higher-level leadership and critical thinking skills, and develop a fuller sense of their place in the world. College students who become involved in advocacy, activism and awareness-raising forever strengthen their sense of citizenship and personal power.

National Literacy Action 2020


ACTIVATE Your POWER, Monday, February 3rd – Saturday February 8th!

Becoming an NLAW Participating Campus is easy! All you need to do is to plan an activity or event on your campus that will help raise awareness or make change in your community, then register your plan.  Steps for NLAW Participating Campuses:

  1.  Join the NLAW Social Media Campaign.  Select tab “Join the Social Media Campaign” for instructions.
  2.  Participate in our student- and community-led events that will be happening around campus.
  3.  Register your NLAW event to become an official participating campus.  Select tab “How to Get Involved” to register.


To raise awareness, your campus program might:

  • Help people understand the need for literacy services locally or nationally.
  • Inform your community about the importance of having adequate literacy skills, and what it means for those who do not.
  • Raise awareness about your program’s activities and the essential work you do.
  • Make connections between literacy and other social justice issues by demonstrating the very real relationships operating in society (e.g., literacy and racism, poverty, sexism, immigration, health needs).

To make change, your campus program might:

  • Address a social justice issue in your local community or on campus.
  • Advocate for changes in a local school.
  • Lobby local, state or national elected officials to commit more resources for literacy initiatives.
  • Pressure decision-makers in education (or other human service areas) to embrace policies and practices that benefit learners most and lead to greater justice and equality.

Check out our resources page for more information and planning guides.

By registering your program and becoming a Participating Campus or Community, you will

  • Receive FREE access to SCALE resources and support to plan and execute you activities, including training
  • Receive national publicity and attention for your efforts to support literacy
  • Get invited to attend the National Literacy Action Week Virtual Conference, which will take place on Saturday, February 2nd.

If you would like some assistance with planning activist events, please call the SCALE office at (919) 962-1542 or email us at SCALE is committed to building a movement for an empowered and socially just society, and the SCALE staff wants to help you become a part of that movement. Let us know what you’re doing, because we plan to spread the word about our collective accomplishments as part of a larger movement for literacy education and social justice. Most of all, use SCALE- we would be delighted to talk with you about your ideas and help in any way we can.


Outside links

Here are some resources that could help you plan your NLAW project. Feel free to add comments with any additional resources you have identified.

Also, do not forget to follow SCALE on Facebook and Twitter for daily tips and ideas!


During NLAW, post pictures of yourself, your students, and your volunteers and let us know why literacy is important to you.  You can download a printable page here:

Literacy is Important Because…

Be sure to tag SCALE’s Facebook Page and use #NLAW19 so that we can see and share your pictures! 


Join SCALE in our social media campaign! Tweet literacy stats, project promotions, or other literacy events going on in your city with #NLAW19. SCALE will be retweeting throughout the week to help you promote what you’re doing!

The National Coalition for Literacy has pre-made tweets on literacy facts that were used for National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week. These can be reused and the #AEFLWeek hashtag replaced with #NLAW. The tweets can be found here.

Sample tweets:

  • 33% of children in California will not finish high school. ( #NLAW
  • 60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. ( #NLAW19
  • Want to make a difference in illiteracy rates? Drop off new and gently used books at SCALE, 101 E Weaver, from 9-1 TODAY  #NLAW19
  • We are so excited to work with (@_________________) for #NLAW 19

Looking for more literacy stats? Check out our NLAW Resources tab above!

You can also host a Twitter Chat. Find out more information here.


Some ideas for engaging people on Facebook:

  • Right click and save the images found on this page and share them. You can even make the images your profile picture and cover photo.
  • Share pictures of your group holding up literacy facts. Or, organize a campaign for people to take pictures around campus with a pledge to fight illiteracy, and post them to your Facebook.
  • Ask a question, produce a poll, or have a fill in the blank. Facebook provides a great chance for people to dialogue.
  • Post some of the sample Tweets as Facebook status updates. Illiteracy facts speak for themselves.
  • Upload a photo album from your event. People love to look through the memories.
  • Create a Facebook event to publicize your event. If you make it public, many of your friends will see and can join in too.
Like and tag SCALE ( and we will also promote your project!

Youtube & Other Videos

Videos are a great way to get messages across! Upload a video to YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook, along with the description “National Literacy Action Week 2019” and let the world see what you’ve been up to!

Watch a sample video here!

Windows Movie Maker is available here for a free download. 

iMovie is an alternative free resource for Macbooks.

Some video ideas:

  • Film your project! Get your learners, volunteers, and leaders to give their thoughts about how the project is going and why it’s important. If you’re doing a program, other people will enjoy seeing it virtually.
  • Film a promo for your project. Videos are a great way to get volunteers excited, and can help with volunteer recruitment!
  • Ask your learners, volunteers, and leaders questions, like “Why is it important to read? When has reading made a difference in your life? What is your favorite book and why? Why is financial literacy important?”
  • Answer one of these questions yourself on something as simple as your smart phone, and upload it. Making a movie doesn’t have to be labor-intensive. A 15 second clip can be very powerful! How many people can you get from your campus to upload a 15 second clip?
  • Get your group together to write a song about literacy and film it.
  • Make a fictional scenario about why reading is important, and film it. Think of different styles you could invoke – murder mystery, super hero, comedy, action, etc. The possibilities are endless!


Have people write their stories along with their pictures on the blog. Try to get many different perspectives! 

If you send a blog post to SCALE, we will add it to our website of NLAW stories!