by David Michael, founder and executive director of Live Literately
Live Literately was founded to fight the rising tide of illiteracy in the U.S. and (eventually) beyond. As a volunteer-run nonprofit organization, the hope is to foster literacy by offering free tutoring to persons of all ages through our network of Affiliates and volunteers across the globe.
In the United States alone, 36 percent of adults had either rudimentary or “below basic” document literacy. Meaning they either struggled or failed to complete a basic job application. The number jumps to 43 percent regarding “prose” literacy, which is defined as “the knowledge and skills needed to […] search, comprehend, and use continuous texts.” Examples given by the National Center for Education Statistics in their National Assessment of Adult Literacy include reading editorials, news stories, brochures, and instructional materials.
These are not numbers I could sit idly by and ignore.
The formation and eventual launch of Live Literately was a long time coming. I knew something needed to be done; I just didn’t know what or how to make it happen. Then I woke up one day and told myself, “David, you have the network to make this happen now. Stop making excuses and just do it.”
So I gathered a board — a veritable collection of superheroes as far as I’m concerned, comprised of authors, editors, teachers, accounting executives, IT gurus, lawyers, and, most importantly, parents — and we made a plan.
We officially launched in May of 2018 to the tune of 136 volunteers in six different countries. The result was far more than I could have hoped for and, to this day, I’m still not sure how we managed to pull it off.
I guess we struck a chord with the public. We’re not the only people who understand the importance of literacy, and for that, I am deeply moved and eternally grateful.
Through curriculum developed by our Education Committee and distributed to our network of volunteers, we run adult literacy programs explicitly targeted to literacy in the workplace.
The importance of being able to understand an application, an employee handbook, or an insurance benefits package is paramount to being an employable, successful adult in today’s workplace.
Population(s) served by these programs are adults who are unemployed, underemployed or dislocated.
Through a combination of traditional teaching methods and custom-built tutoring curriculum, our volunteers run tutoring sessions for adults to provide a broad-spectrum education concerning literacy.
These sessions are provided, free of charge, to those who test at a “basic” level of literacy or below to bring them to an “intermediate” level of literacy by the standards of the U.S. Department of Education. The program will be expanded to include school-aged individuals in our second year of operation.
As an Affiliate of Live Literately, an invitation to sign at a minimum of one of the signings each year is a promise. Due to the organization being headquartered in Salt Lake City (and the lack of other signings in the state) one of the events will be hosted here, in May, every year to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the organization. In the event of an additional signing, the location for that signing will be determined based on the concentration of our Affiliates to provide you with an opportunity closer to home.
You also will gain access to additional marketing tools for new releases, sales, giveaways, etc., including our network of Affiliate blogs and a listing on the organization’s Affiliates page on our website.
In addition to the above-listed benefits, Live Literately is working hard to build partnerships with several of the book signings around the country to offer you discounted table fees at them as well. More information will come out on this part of the Affiliate Program at the beginning of 2019.
The cost of being an Affiliate of Live Literately has been set at $100 per year, and we ask that you spend a minimum of one hour per month volunteering within your community (reading at a library, running a creative writing workshop, teaching cover photography, cover modeling tips, cover design, book formatting, editing, blogging, etc.). We feel this is an exceptional value for the signing alone and hope to provide even more value to our team in the coming years.
One of the many literary events we hope to sponsor every year is the Live Literately Literacy Summit (LLLS). It will be a signing coordinated and sponsored by the organization on an annual basis, and we will add an extra signing to our lineup for every 125 Affiliates we have at the beginning of each year.
If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate of Live Literately and attending our first LLLS in Salt Lake City on May 18, 2019, please visit www.liveliterately.org to complete the Affiliate/volunteer interest form.