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How CLE Got Started

With the official launch of the Coalition for Literacy Equity, the next few posts are meant to tell the backstory of our evolution.

Our roots can be traced back to 2019, when I first read Susan Neuman’s research about the stark realities of book access in low-income communities (for access to these articles, visit the Members Portal - under File Share). As a former classroom teacher and teacher educator, I’ve always viewed literacy as an issue of social justice; try as I might, I couldn’t overlook the data. I channeled my anger into action, and started the End Book Deserts podcast. My intention was (1) to bring awareness to book access as an issue of equity and (2) showcase the innovative people and programs working to get books to kids. I had the pleasure of producing 50+ podcasts; in my conversations, I realized that there was not yet a professional organization or network that drew together these like-minded literacy advocates. Hence, in 2021 I launched the two-day virtual event. Over 900 literacy advocates registered and participated in this free, virtual event.

Eager to build on this momentum, a small team of passionate advocates met for months after the August 2021 event. We were eager to continue the conversations, to ensure that there was a platform for literacy advocacy programs to network and collaborate, and to harness strength in numbers. At the same time, I read Susan Neuman’s 2021 article from AERJ, and encountered this statement:

“There has never been an effort to weave programs together into a collective, strategic goal: to ensure that children, particularly from economically distressed homes, own a personal book library”.

Throughout our conversations, our group launched the Coalition for Literacy Equity. Our name choice purposefully reflects the alliance we aim to create, as well as our beliefs that book access and reading culture are issues of equity. As we grow, we envision a network of people and programs who can support each other, share best practices and resources, and offer events to empower and educate. This vision is not possible without a meaningfully engaged community. We believe in dreaming big; our hope is that membership fees and sponsorships will allow us to expand our offerings, support research efforts, and even fund startup programs. Join us in this work to build #literacyequity

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