PHILADELPHIA- Reading Allowed is kicking off its “Literacy is a Social Justice Issue” Speaker Series on Wednesday, October 26th with a panel discussion in the Skyline Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Confirmed panelists include Free Library President and Director, Kelly Richards, Hilderbrand Pelzer III, educator and author of Unlocking Potential: Organizing a School Inside a Prison, and Dr. Ernesto Ortiz, Jr. Senior Literacy Engagement Specialist at the AIM Institute for Learning & Research. WHYY on-air host and reporter, Avi Wolfman-Arent, will serve as event moderator. The event begins at 5:30 pm with refreshments, and the panel discussion will run from 6:15 pm to 7:30 pm.
The goal of “Literacy is a Social Justice Issue” is to bring awareness of and discuss solutions for the devastating problem of illiteracy in Philadelphia that exacerbates existing issues of racial and economic inequality. Just over half of Philadelphia adults are functionally illiterate, and nearly two-thirds are low-literate, reading at just a middle-school grade level. Those who struggle with reading are more likely to drop out of high school, to experience periods of unemployment, to end up in the criminal justice system, and to live in poverty – a systemic problem in Philadelphia.
“I founded Reading Allowed to do something about the illiteracy problem–which I believe is a social justice issue–in Philadelphia. Literacy affects the way we learn, work and interact with those around us, and poor literacy is a barrier to social and economic stability,” explained Reading Allowed founder and Executive Director, Angela Marks. “To have Kelly Richards, Hilderbrand Pelzer III, Dr. Ortiz, and Avi Wolfman-Arent participate in this event is a huge honor and will certainly help raise awareness of this important issue.”
Additional panelists are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks and registration details will follow. The Speaker Series will continue with subsequent dates to be determined, featuring Resha Conroy, Founder of Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children, and Deborah Gordon-Klehr, Executive Director of the Education Law Center.
About Reading Allowed
Reading Allowed is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides high quality structured literacy tutoring to schools, community organizations, and individuals of all ages, regardless of financial circumstances. Since our founding in 2019, Reading Allowed has grown exponentially and is now serving more than 175 students in the Philadelphia area. Additionally, we work with schools and educators to help implement best structured literacy practices in the classroom so that we may have not only a deep but also a broad impact.
Reading Allowed believes that reading is a basic right, not a privilege. Our organization is currently the only intervention program in the Philadelphia area that provides students with tutors that are rigorously trained and credentialed, closely vetted professionals who are certified in the most effective methods of structured literacy practices based on scientific research. Assessments, instruction, and evaluations for individuals and groups are delivered by caring and compassionate tutors who have been rigorously trained and certified in the most effective methods of structured literacy practices based on scientific research. Our hope is that all struggling readers become lifelong and confident readers and writers, as well as active contributors to their communities and our democracy.