THE BLOG

Literacy Changes Lives

06/22/2015 08:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2016

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By Emily Musil Church, Ph.D.

Most people would be shocked to learn that 36 million Americans lack basic literacy skills. The ability to read allows a person to unlock a world of possibilities. Literacy improves economic, psychological, social, and physical well-being. Unfortunately, the number of people with low literacy skills in the United States has not improved over the last 20 years. These low literacy rates cost the U.S. an estimated $225 billion dollars a year. We need a radical breakthrough in adult literacy.

That's why XPRIZE has partnered with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to launch a $7 million competition to boost adult literacy innovation. Registration is now open for teams that can create a scalable mobile application that will significantly improve the literacy level of an adult within a 12-month period.  Sign up or learn more about the competition by clicking here.

Empowering people to teach themselves to read changes lives. Becoming literate vastly improves economic opportunities, increases self-esteem and empowerment, provides measurable benefits for health and safety, and strengthens one's relationships and civic engagement. Literate parents are key to a child's success in school and in life. In addition to the individual and family benefits, society as a whole profits from a more literate population: more money goes into the economy, while criminal justice and school system costs decrease.

Literacy is central to the right to education set forth in the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All people should have the right to empower themselves, their families, and their communities.  It's time for change. Join us as we invite innovators from all over the world to harness technology to make this seemingly impossible feat possible.

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