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New state funding aims to improve adult literacy skills

Stack of books
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Stack of books

How do you get a good job today if you can't read? You can't, which is why two local lawmakers are pushing to increate the money going into efforts to improve adult literacy.

Buried in the tens of billions of dollars in the state budget is a one million dollar grant directed to Literacy New York for statewide efforts to combat illeteracy. Its local affiliate, Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, will get $25 thousand for training for 40 more people.

The days of people getting good jobs despite limited literacy skills are gone. State Senator Tim Kennedy says too many local residents can't read:

"While we face immense challenges in our city where one in three adults is functionally illiterate, and in our county where one in five adults is functionally illiterate, we need to do all that we can to make sure we're giving the resources necessary to educate those folks that want to learn the skills of reading, the skills of life."

State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes is also a strong proponent of literacy skills in Albany, reflecting her own time as a teacher in Buffalo. The two Buffalo Democrats say they want even more money for literacy work next year.

Peoples-Stokes says city residents won't be able to benefit from the thousands of high-tech jobs on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus if they can't read the training manuals and fill out the forms for those jobs.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.