Illiteracy is a huge international problem. Without the ability to read, millions of people are denied access to education and the chance to transform their living conditions. Although it is difficult to obtain accurate numbers, as many as 867 million (at least) cannot read, and two-thirds of those are female. This translates to one in every five persons on Earth. Denied literacy, underprivileged people worldwide struggle to surmount poverty. The International Literacy Foundation (ILF) has a mission to alleviate illiteracy. A not-for-profit organization, it invests in many projects that promote and support education through literacy.
The ILF was founded in 2010 and works with volunteers and alongside other philanthropic organizations (many of which are recipients of ILF grants) to advocate and support promotion of global literacy.
Examples of projects range from the developing to the developed world. Along with upcoming and ongoing works, a recently completed ILF initiative took place in Toronto, Canada, in 2011. The First Nations School had a small enrolment of 85 aboriginal children. As such, they found it difficult to fund books and other essentials. Rukhsana Khan, an award-winning children’s author, conducted workshops and seminars with the children, recognizing the unique challenges they faced and the socio-economic conditions of their backgrounds. $2,500 was also raised to provide additional resources and the school is now well stocked with educational materials, including hundreds of books.
The Hope School in Pakistan has also seen a wonderful transformation since the ILF moved in to help them in the slum area of Karachi. A library was created from an empty room, 600 books procured in many languages, including Urdu, and the entire space was furnished comfortably. The addition of two computers and relevant software vastly advanced the students’ capacity to explore and to learn. The ILF believes that electronic literacy is of equal relevance to today’s children.
Donations of both time and money are imperative for the work of the foundation, and both corporate and personal sponsors are highly valued for their contributions to the work of improving the quality of life through literacy in underprivileged peoples. The ILF believes in the power of strong communities and truly appreciates the expertise and enthusiasm of those who volunteer to assist.
The ILF has evolved a model of operation through an understanding of how to combine their leadership with the collaborative efforts of the community. Achieving this balance is the catalyst in the growth of literacy in the communities they support.