The population served by LCGC’s programs is primarily disadvantaged immigrant families living in low-income households. The majority of program participants are of Hispanic origin. Their lack of English language and literacy skills places them at a disadvantage in gaining meaningful employment and succeeding in school. The inability to speak English places a burden on schools, employers, and the community service providers.
Literacy Council Gulf Coast helps students in order that they can improve their quality of life for themselves and their children. When students meet their goals and are able to effectively communicate to others or enroll in higher education, the entire community benefits. These students become more educated, attain citizenship and degrees, become employed, and participate and contribute to the community. This creates a healthier, happier, and safer environment for our community to grow and prosper.
At the state level, almost 20 percent of Floridians are foreign-born, according to the U.S. Census. Even more important is that 27 percent of Floridians age 5 and older speak a language other than English in the household. As recently as last decade, 20 percent of Floridians 16 years and older lacked basic prose literacy skills, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Literacy examined 24 industrialized countries and found:
- The U.S. mean literacy score was below the international average, 16th out of 24.
- Only 12 percent of U.S. adults performed on the highest level of the literacy scale.
- Only 9 percent of U.S. adults performed at the highest level on the numeracy scale.
- Only 8 percent of U.S. adults under 35 and 6 percent overall performed at the highest level on the problem-solving/technology scale.
More notable is a trend that began in 1990. Immigrants who entered the U.S. during that decade were younger and less educated — one-third lacked the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma — than in all the decades preceding that year until 1890.
In Hendry County, 42 percent of people 16 years and older lacked basic prose literacy skills, according to the same study by the National Center for Education, while Collier County was at 17 percent. That means almost half of Hendry residents old enough to work need to improve their English, while 1 in 5 Collier residents of the same age need the same. In Hendry, only 64 percent of the residents have a high school diploma and less than 10 percent have a bachelor’s degree. The median household income in Hendry County is $37,966 per year. In Collier, 85 percent have a high school diploma, 31 percent a bachelor’s degree, and the median household income sits at almost $66,048 annually.
Lee County, where our headquarters is located, has a median household income for 2019 of roughly $53,928 and 14.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. We estimate that between 13-20 percent of Lee County residents of total county population of 739,224 speak a language other than English within their homes. That means up to 147,844 adults and children cannot read, write, speak or comprehend English at a level that allows them to fully participate in their community. Without the ability to effectively communicate in English outside their homes, people that are illiterate or under-literate in the English language face significant restrictions in living their life to its fullest potential.
We have the distinct privilege to serve our neighbors, members of the working poor. While 90 percent of our client demographic is Hispanic, non-native English speakers, we serve parents and families from sixty two countries throughout the world – in South and Central America, Haiti, France, Germany, Albania, Romania, Spain, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Slovakia, Greece, China, Viet Nam, South Korea, Thailand, and others.