National Literacy Action Week (NLAW)
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.
‘Literacy as a Right’
This year SCALE has chosen ‘Literacy as a Right’ for our NLAW theme. Although not recognized as a constitutional right in the US, international organizations like UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) consider literacy to be a basic human right. UNESCO takes the following stance on literacy:
“It views acquiring and improving literacy skills throughout life as an intrinsic part of the right to education. The “multiplier effect” of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods. Literacy is also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities. Beyond its conventional concept as a set of reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.”
With this mindset, SCALE chose ‘literacy as a right’ for our 2018 NLAW theme. As an organization we will focus specifically on increasing literacy access for incarcerated persons. We are partnering with a local organization, Prison Books Collective, that fills book requests for prisoners in North Carolina and Alabama. Our America Reads and Counts tutors and our North Carolina LiteracyCorps members will participate in the type of projects listed below to support PBC.
- Raise funds to support postage and supply costs for Prison Books
- Organize targeted book drives to collect the most popular and frequently requested books
- Write letter responses to prisoners who have requested books
- Teach a lesson to their adult or K-12 learners on topics relating to incarceration and literacy (e.g. school to prison pipeline)
We encourage you or your organization to connect with a local organization like Prison Books Collective or create your own event relating to the theme of Literacy as a Right. You can also participate in our social media campaign to advocate for literacy for all! The information above and in the subsequent tabs on this page provides guides, resources, lesson plans, registration for our free conference, and a history of NLAW. Please reach out to us at email@example.com for more information or if you have questions on how you can best advocate for literacy in your community.
Join us for a FREE Conference, Saturday, February 3rd!
We will be hosting two webinars that are free and open to the public on Saturday, February 3rd at 10 am & 11 am est. Please see details below and use the form at the bottom of this page to sign up!
10 am- Literacy as a Right
presented by SCALE staff
11 am-Youth Organizing 101: A History of Young People’s Place in the Movement
presented by Tavon Bridges of Youth Organizing Institute
Become an NLAW Participating Campus
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:
- Join the NLAW Social Media Campaign. Select tab “Join the Social Media Campaign” for instructions.
- Participate in our FREE conference on Saturday, February 3rd. Select tab “How to Get Involved” to register.
- 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 3rd.
If you would like some assistance with planning activist events, please call the SCALE office at (919) 962-1542 or emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Also, do not forget to follow SCALE on Facebook and Twitter for daily tips and ideas!
- Organizing your campus for an NLAW program
- Making it work: planning, implementing, and facilitating NLAW on your campus
Organizing a Read-a-Thon? Check out these resources for tips!
- North Carolina Central University Read-a-Thon
- Read-a-Thon Kit
- “Read a Way Out of Homelessness” Read-a-Thon Kit
- Read-a-Thon Planning Guide
- Virtual 24 Hour Read-a-Thon
Hosting a Film Screening? Check out the resources below!
Film Viewing and Discussion Guides:
Planning a Book Drive? Look here!
Trying to recruit volunteers for your organization? Find helpful tips here!
Want to inform your community about literacy issues? Check these out!
Looking for literacy facts to spread around your campus? Here you go!
- National Center for Education Statistics : This website is published by the United States Department of Education. Use the links to find facts about specific literacy areas: adult literacy, family reading and more!
- Facts about Illiteracy
- Adult Literacy Statistics
- Adult Education Fact Sheet
- Teaching Effectiveness in Adult Literacy
Current Issues and Perspectives
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:
Be sure to tag SCALE’s Facebook Page and use #NLAW18 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 #NLAW18. 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.
- 33% of children in California will not finish high school. (http://www.readfaster.com/) #NLAW
- 60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. (http://www.readfaster.com/) #NLAW18
- Want to make a difference in illiteracy rates? Drop off new and gently used books at SCALE, 101 E Weaver, from 9-1 TODAY #NLAW18
- We are so excited to work with (@_________________) for #NLAW 18
Looking for more literacy stats? Check out our NLAW Resources tab above!
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.
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 2018” and let the world see what you’ve been up to!
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!
If you send a blog post to SCALE, we will add it to our website of NLAW stories!