The Central Carolina Community Foundation, a far-reaching granting philanthropy in the Midlands, has set the goal of achieving 100 percent literacy in 11 South Carolina counties by the year 2030. And they have put their money where their goal is: $1 million in helper funds to go to proven or innovative efforts to improve reading rates. They have also involved major corporations like AT&T and Boeing.
The reason: a series of studies shows the state is in real trouble when it comes to educating children and adults. They engaged Literacy Powerline and found:
- 19 percent of Midlands adults (152,000 people) are functionally illiterate.
- 20 percent of Midlands area public high school students do not graduate on time.
- In South Carolina, a student drops out of high school every 11 seconds.
- The earnings gap between a high school graduate and non-graduate in South Carolina is $7,476 per year.
- If the current population of Midlands dropouts were to complete their high school education, they would collectively earn $778,460,928 more per year, resulting in $54,492,265 in additional state tax revenue each year.
- In manufacturing industries, increasing the average employee education by only one more year of school leads to an 8.5 percent increase in productivity. In non-manufacturing industries, productivity increases by 12.7 percent.
- A one-year increase of schooling for adults in South Carolina could have prevented 1,048 murders, 613 assaults, 215 burglaries and 43 larcenies in 2011. These preventable crimes from FY2011 will end up costing South Carolina more than $488 million.
JoAnn Turnquist, CEO of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, says the Literacy 2030 initiative will focus community, school, university, and not-for profit efforts, while trying to eliminate redundancy.
AUDIO: Turnquist explains the project, the needs (9:42)