Washington, D.C. — At today’s National Summit on Adult Literacy hosted by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, corporate leaders from prominent businesses joined First Lady of the United States Jill Biden to address a growing challenge in America that effects workforce readiness, pay levels and equity: the inability to read.
In her remarks, Dr. Biden said, “Reading is the foundation of all education. It affects every aspect of our society.”
Echoing similar sentiments, panelists from The Business Roundtable, Dollar General, Humana, Intel and Microsoft shared their views on the importance of improving adult literacy rates.
“Literacy is a gateway to economic prosperity regardless of background, experience or zip code,” said Dane Linn, Vice President, Immigration, Workforce & Education, The Business Roundtable. “While we are experiencing a surge in employment opportunities, there are many Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic who are at a disadvantage in securing a new job due to literacy requirements. A national strategy that invests in adult literacy, including digital literacy, is key to reducing our country’s wealth gap.”
“Whether you look at literacy and education from a workforce, economic empowerment or personal growth and development lens, the impact and opportunities it affords are tremendous,” said Denine Torr, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, Dollar General. “The value of education is clear. The challenge is how to create access to quality educational instruction for individuals of all ages. At Dollar General, we are excited to be engaging in a national dialogue with other corporate, nonprofit and government leaders to explore ways to expand and strengthen educational opportunities, in addition to our continued efforts to support literacy through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.”
“Limited health literacy is a social determinant of health that affects people of all racial/ethnic groups, ages, education levels and socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Nwando Olayiwola, Chief Health Equity Officer, Humana. “However, limited health literacy is disproportionately problematic for people from lower income, non-English speaking and racial/ethnic minority populations. Improving health literacy can improve both financial and clinical outcomes and result in improved patient empowerment.”
“At Intel our purpose is to create world-changing technology that enriches the life of every person on the planet. Inclusivity and digital readiness are central to that mission. We are committed to working with communities, policy makers, non-profits and our fellow corporate partners to create inclusive learning experiences leveraging our innovative technologies — such as artificial intelligence, 5G, augmented or virtual reality — to unleash the potential in others. By 2030, Intel plans to partner with governments in 30 countries and 30,000 institutions worldwide and is committed to empower more than 30 million people with AI skills training. This includes our commitment to support broadband access in underserved communities, lead in development of innovative digital devices and develop and proliferate digital skills curriculum. We are proud to be a part of the national conversation on literacy and to lend our passion and expertise to support this important and critical initiative,” said Elizabeth Haines McGee, Director, Innovation & Engagement, Intel.
“Ensuring everyone can thrive in today’s economy comes from having access to digital learning and skill development. We remain committed to advancing digital equity so everyone has the opportunity to learn new digital skills for better-paying jobs. As the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy convenes an important conversation on adult literacy in the United States, we are honored to participate in today’s summit and share our learnings,” said Allyson Knox, Senior Director of Education Policy, Microsoft.
About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has been the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy for more than three decades. Established by former First Lady Barbara Bush in 1989, the Foundation is a public charity dedicated to creating a stronger, more equitable America in which everyone can read, write and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity. To learn more, visit www.BarbaraBush.org.