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100,000 Memphians Can’t Read This

There are open seats at technical training centers across Shelby County, but most Memphians experiencing poverty can’t access those seats. Why? Because they can’t read the training texts or perform the math necessary to complete the training program. An estimated 100,000 Memphians experiencing poverty are in need of academic remediation before they can access career & technical education that can unlock living-wage jobs.

Adult literacy is a grossly under-served area of need in Memphis. Less than 10 organizations have been identified that offer services to help adults achieve basic literary proficiency. In fact, if those organizations were serving at full capacity, there would only be enough seats to serve less than 5% of those who need help.  

The sobering reality is that our community doesn’t have the systems in place to meet the need. If we don’t change the system, the population of individuals unable to participate in the training and certification programs needed to qualify for jobs that earn a living wage will increase each year unchecked.

REALITY:  A high school diploma in Shelby County doesn’t guarantee literacy and math proficiency. Employers and training providers must often decline candidates based on a failure to meet math and reading proficiency requirements.

In the coming months, MemWorks plans to collaborate with schools, non-profits, and post-secondary institutions to determine ways our community can create better pipelines for those in need of remediation to get the support they need to break the cycle.

100,000 Memphians Can’t Read This