Learn about Houston Center for Literacy
In 1984, Mayor Kathy Whitmire and the City Council established
Houston Center for Literacy (HCL) with one goal in mind: to raise
the adult literacy rates in Houston. HCL works toward this goal by
organizations and programs, engaging the entire community to
join us in solving our city's low-literacy problem, and connecting learners with the
education they need to be prepared for the future.
HCL acts as the Mayor's liaison to literacy programming in
Houston by supporting the Mayor's Coalition for Literacy, an
association of more than 70 organizations offering literacy
services. We distribute the annual Mayor's Challenge Grant to
accredited literacy organizations across the city, and
provide professional development
courses, and classroom
Our demonstration learning
centers are another way HCL supports literacy programs.
While HCL is not a literacy provider in the traditional sense, we
operate three full-time demonstration literacy centers - San Jose,
Connect @ 6800, and Magnolia - in areas of Houston where the need
is high. Our centers are not only free of charge for learners, but
they are also open to literacy providers to learn best practices.
Organizations interested in starting a literacy center can observe
classes, get lesson plans, and gain access to supplies by making an
appointment to visit one of our centers.
Another important aspect of HCL's mission is to engage the
community. We accomplish this by raising awareness about the
effects of low-literacy and advocating on the city, state, and
national levels for policy change that will increase resources and
funding for adult literacy. HCL is an active participant in
literacy events across Greater Houston.
There are many ways HCL connects our community to literacy
services. Houston Center for Literacy has given the United Way of
Greater Houston special access to its literacy provider directory,
expanding the citywide 2-1-1 HELPLINE's directory and its knowledge
of literacy services in the Houston area. Additionally, HCL works
with businesses around Houston to procure in-kind resources, such
as computers, books, and office supplies for our member
organizations. Further, we connect literacy providers to other
organizations offering similar services, through our monthly
provider meetings and e-communication.
In order to boost the economy of Houston, Houston Center for
Literacy strengthens providers of adult education who, in turn,
provide necessary skills for underemployed citizens to fulfill
their potential and become economically self-sufficient.
Why We Exist
Houston's staggering low-literacy statistics have significant
implications on the city's wellbeing now and in the future,
including our workforce, the lives of many families, as well as the
safety of all of our citizens.
Houston's Low-Literacy Statistics:
1 in 5 Harris county residents lacks basic literacy skills, up
from 1 in 7 in 1992. (U.S. Department of Education, Institute of
Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003
National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
Of the 75 most populous cities in the United States, Houston was
recently ranked #56, with #75 being the least literate.
(Central Connecticut State University, 2011)
Immigrants who are proficient in English earn between 13-24 %
more than non-English proficient immigrants. (Migration Policy
Institute, Adult English Language
Instruction in the United States: Determining Need and Investing
About Our Name Change: Houston Center for Literacy, at the
center of progress
For over 30 years, our organization has been serving the Houston
community. As we work to create a more literate Houston, our
organization's mission has become increasingly important to our
city's future. In order to better communicate our message, increase
awareness of our mission, and define our identity, we changed our
name in 2012 from Houston READ Commission to Houston Center for
Literacy. The organization's new name and logo reflect the
mission to engage, connect, and support literacy providers as the
Houston Center for Literacy is at the center of progress to create
a more literate Houston.