9 Best Charities That Promote Literacy (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities That Promote Literacy (Complete 2022 List)

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Diana Stancu

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Literacy is the framework through which we communicate, connect and expand our shared existence. Yet around 750 million people worldwide are unable to join the conversation because they cannot read or write. Moreover, 1 in 5 adults in the US struggle to read basic sentences, and 124 million children worldwide lack simple literacy skills. Fortunately, charities are fighting to improve literacy development in vulnerable communities to help them increase their opportunities and quality of life. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that promote literacy?

The best charities that promote literacy are the World Literacy Foundation, ProLiteracy, and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Other charities, like Reading Is Fundamental and Room to Read, improve reading and writing skills in underserved communities.

Whether you want to help improve the literacy levels of vulnerable youth, support struggling adults with a second chance at literacy education, or ensure that underserved children and parents advance their literacy together, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that promote literacy are all about, how they work, and what would be your best way to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Promote Literacy Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their impact, transparency ratings, achievements, and mission. They operate all over the world, from North America to Asia, providing resources and support to low-literate communities. 

Most of the charities below offer literacy services to struggling children, adults, or families, with programs that address the needs of local communities. They also train teachers and advocate for improved school systems to create sustainable changes in literacy education. Furthermore, they fight to raise public awareness of literacy challenges in children and adults while advocating for better education policies. Yet, through different means, all the charities share the same goal of teaching underserved people to read and create literate, educated communities that can thrive. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Literacy

Below are our favorite charities that promote literacy:

  • World Literacy Foundation
  • Reading Is Fundamental
  • ProLiteracy
  • Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
  • Room to Read
  • Children’s Literacy Initiative
  • Intermountain Therapy Animals
  • Reading Out of Poverty
  • National Literacy Trust

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

World Literacy Foundation: Changing Lives Through Literacy

The World Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 in Australia by Andrew Kay to ensure that children worldwide have the opportunity to acquire literacy skills and reach their full potential. Today, they are a global organization, bringing literacy support and resources to poor, marginalized families. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The World Literacy Foundation holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

We envision a world in which every one of us can read and write, in which there is free access to education for all.

World Literacy Foundation

What they do: The World Literacy Foundation brings literacy support to disadvantaged children by providing books and educational resources, such as Literacy Packs, to instill a love for reading. Moreover, through their EdTech Program, they distribute e-books or other digital devices to advance children’s learning in remote communities. In addition, they involve parents to encourage their children to read at home and empower them to advocate in their community about the importance of literacy. Furthermore, they partner with global literacy organizations to build strategies and solve literacy issues internationally.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the World Literacy Foundation has developed distinct literacy programs in the US, the UK, Africa, Australia, and Latin America. Today, they work across 4,500 communities in 143 countries, reaching 115 million children and their families every year. For example, in 2021, they distributed nearly 100,000 books to disadvantaged youth and gave literacy support to 170,000 children and parents across 20,000 volunteering hours. In the same year, they reached 9,5 million people through social media campaigns and advocacy events.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the World Literacy Foundation on their website. You can also get involved by volunteering, fundraising, or starting a corporate partnership. In addition, you can join their Youth Ambassador training and become a literacy advocate. 

Reading Is Fundamental: Until Every Child Reads

Reading is Fundamental was founded in 1966 by Margaret McNamara to improve the literacy skills of American children by inspiring a passion for reading. Today, they are the largest children’s literacy non-profit in the US, teaching youth to read and increasing their opportunities by engaging local educators.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Reading is Fundamental has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

We are committed to a literate America by providing quality content and designing solutions to give every child the fundamentals for success.

Reading Is Fundamental

What they do: Reading is Fundamental works with local literacy advocates to give children interactive books and create a continuous focus on reading. Furthermore, their Literacy Central portal provides teachers and parents with digital reading resources like lesson plans or games that improve children’s reading skills. They also run a digital library for young readers that offers read-to-me narration and interactive animations while helping teachers track children’s progress. Moreover, their Read for Success program improves the literacy skills of elementary schoolers and encourages a passion for reading.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Reading is Fundamental has impacted the lives of nearly 130 million children in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. They have also distributed more than 422 million books to 40 million children nationwide through their Books for Ownership program. In addition, they have collaborated with more than 1 million teachers, parents, and volunteers across 18,000 schools and learning institutions to advance pupils’ literacy. For example, in 2021, they supported 27,3 million children with 1,4 million books and 4,7 million digital literacy resources. In the same year, they campaigned with 1,5 million literacy advocates for improved education policies. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Reading Is Fundamental on their website. You can also contribute by volunteering or sponsoring children and teachers. In addition, you can try workplace giving or fundraising

ProLiteracy: Every Adult Has a Right to Literacy

ProLiteracy was founded in 2002 by Dr. Frank Laubach and Ruth Colvin to promote global adult literacy through educational opportunities and international initiatives. Today, they are the leading resource for adult education and literacy worldwide, working to give basic education and change lives in underserved communities. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: ProLiteracy has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Teach an adult to read. Inspire the world to change.

ProLiteracy

What they do: ProLiteracy runs various adult literacy programs to teach adults how to read. For example, they organize literacy workshops and design digital education materials for online literacy support. They also equip educators with teaching tools that give adult students proper literacy development. In addition, they fight to increase access to adult literacy services by offering financial grants to local literacy organizations. Furthermore, they work with partners worldwide to give underserved adults basic education and literacy classes in native languages. They also work to raise awareness of adult literacy challenges and create nationwide policy changes

What they’ve achieved: Today, ProLiteracy supports 5,000 program members in the US and 27 countries worldwide that provide adult literacy services to the most vulnerable. For example, in 2021, they distributed nearly 2,000 grants and more than $3 million worth of educational materials to adult literacy organizations across the US. Through this, they have equipped 60,000 educators with the resources to help 470,000 people improve their reading skills. In the same year, they invested over $6,5 million in literacy resources such as the Adult Literacy Education manual, which gathered more than 21,500 downloads

Ways to contribute: You can donate to ProLiteracy on their website. You can also contribute by volunteering or becoming an adult literacy advocate. In addition, you can share their Adult Literacy Programs.

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: Literacy Is the Key to Solving Everything

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy was founded in 1989 by Barbara Bush to support parents with unmet literacy needs to learn alongside their young children. Today, they equip at-risk adults and families with the knowledge to read, write, and better comprehend the world around them so they can improve their lives. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed. We’re building a future where more people can navigate the world with dignity.

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

What they do: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy empowers children and parents to advance their literacy skills by supporting the development of and access to digital literacy tools. They also create positive practices for adult and family literacy through their Book Explorers project. This is a reading mentoring program with activities that encourage children and their caregivers to improve their reading skills together at home. Furthermore, their ReadSquad program pairs struggling young readers with teen mentors and provides at-home resources to increase literacy skills in children and their parents

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has provided more than $110 million in programs for low-literate communities across all 50 states and DC. They have also established 1,600 ReadSquad programs in 18 states, providing more than 510,000 books to nearly 35,000 struggling readers. During the programs, 37,000 teen mentors volunteered 675,000 hours to help children and their parents improve their reading. Furthermore, in 2015, they designed the first mobile app that helps adults learn to read through digital resources.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy on their website. You can also contribute by subscribing to their newsletter, sponsoring their fundraising events, or making employee-matching gifts

Room to Read: World Change Starts with Educated Children

Room to Read was founded in 2000 in Nepal by John Wood, Erin Ganju, and Dinesh Shrestha to bring donated books to rural communities and increase their literacy skills. Today, the charity is a global organization transforming the lives of millions of children through education and reading programs.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Room to Read has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

All children have the inherent right to quality education. We are breaking the cycle of childhood illiteracy and poverty in a single generation.

Room to Read

What they do: Room to Read designs literacy programs to create sustainable changes in school policy and curriculums. For this, they provide reading materials that develop children’s literacy skills and foster interest in reading. They also support early-grade teachers with training workshops on reading and writing while coaching educators to manage libraries and encourage students to read independently. Moreover, they work with schools to build safe, child-friendly spaces where pupils thrive and can study properly. They also advocate with governments and parents to create a supportive environment for reading both in school and at home. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Room to Read has served 28 million children and nearly 50,000 communities from 20 countries through their literacy programs. In addition, they have distributed 34 million books and partnered with 47,000 schools where they trained 200,000 teachers through literacy workshops. For example, in 2020, they trained 36,000 teachers from nearly 7,000 schools and helped 2,2 million children to take reading and writing classes. In the same year, they invested over $30 million in their global literacy initiatives and provided 3,5 million books to underserved youth to help them learn to read.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Room to Read on their website. You can also contribute by fundraising or participating in their book club. In addition, you can join their Chapter Network and promote their work in your local community. 

Children’s Literacy Initiative: Investing in Teachers, Improving Early Literacy

The Children’s Literacy Initiative was founded in 1988 by Linda Katz, Pat Federman, and Marcia Moon to share their literacy teachings with parents and improve the literacy skills of very young children. Today, the charity enables children to achieve proper literacy expertise and supports teachers with specialized trainings.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Children’s Literacy Initiative has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

We believe that literacy is the very foundation of all learning and the pathway to liberation for every human being. For this, we fight to transform literacy instruction and teaching.

Children’s Literacy Initiative

What they do: The Children’s Literacy Initiative provides in-depth coaching plans for early-grade teachers in one-on-one sessions or small classroom groups. With this, the charity gives them ongoing demonstrations and feedback to help create effective literacy practices in their daily work. The charity also runs workshops for educators or families to help them develop children’s literacy skills. In addition, they supply classrooms with interactive books for students’ reading levels to instill a passion for literature. Moreover, they work with school leaders to analyze students’ progress and ensure that their literacy learning methods are sustainable.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Children’s Literacy Initiative has raised student literacy scores while improving teaching practices. For example, in 2019, they invested over $27 million in literacy development programs for youth and their teachers. In the same year, they helped nearly 100,000 students across 400 schools nationwide to improve their reading and writing skills. In addition, they coached more than 5,000 educators and distributed over 100,000 books to children needing literacy support. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the Children’s Literacy Initiative via their website. You can also contribute by subscribing to their newsletter or applying for a job. In addition, you can join their LEARN community which provides free literacy teaching resources. 

Intermountain Therapy Animals: Literacy Through Animal Bonding

Intermountain Therapy Animals was founded in 1993 by a group of professionals to bring animal resources to human needs and enhance the quality of life through the human-animal bond. Today, their Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s literacy skills through the help of therapy animals as literacy mentors. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Intermountain Therapy Animals holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Our R.E.A.D. program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal.

Intermountain Therapy Animals

What they do: Intermountain Therapy Animals works through their R.E.A.D. program to develop children’s reading skills by pairing them with therapy animals and their owners. The charity organizes read-aloud sessions for children in schools or libraries and makes the animals their reading companions. In this way, they instill a love for books and reading and help youth associate the activity with a bonding experience. In addition, the charity has ongoing training for aspiring R.E.A.D practitioners and provides a resource library with activities they can include in their reading sessions. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Intermountain Therapy Animals’ R.E.A.D. program has become the largest project of its kind worldwide. Today, over 6,700 R.E.A.D. teams work across the US and 24 other countries to increase children’s literacy skills through human-animal bonding. They have also established a network of 60 program instructors and have 96 R.E.A.D. affiliate groups in 35 US states. Furthermore, they have sold their R.E.A.D. training manual in all 50 states and 27 other countries while also translating it into 5 foreign languages.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Intermountain Therapy Animals on their website. You can also contribute by buying their R.E.A.D. merchandise. In addition, you can volunteer or request a R.E.A.D. program in your educational facility. 

Reading Out of Poverty: Literacy Is the Answer

Reading Out of Poverty was founded in 2011 in Australia by Andrew Kay to provide early literacy support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Today, they teach literacy skills in early childhood and provide literacy resources and services to families with young children in need. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Reading Out of Poverty spent 64% of their total income on charitable projects, 6% on developing new programs, 5.7% on research projects, and 8% on Marketing & Administration fees.

Our mission is to enhance the language and literacy skills of children, beginning at birth, by supporting parents as their child’s first teachers.”

Reading Out of Poverty

What they do: Reading Out of Poverty provides a diverse library of interactive resources to help parents engage in literacy activities with their children. They also run read-aloud storytime sessions with children to foster a love for books, expand their vocabulary, and guide parents to improve their child’s literacy. In addition, they run pop-up libraries with donated children’s books to encourage parents to read with their children at home. They also help new parents receive the necessary resources and mentoring to establish literacy routines at home from an early age. Furthermore, they publish multilingual baby books to support migrant families. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Reading Out of Poverty has distributed 43,000 books through pop-up libraries and helped nearly 21,000 parents to teach their children literacy skills. They have also reached 21,500 children in need across nearly 100,000 volunteering hours. For example, in 2021, they served 155,000 families with literacy resources and mentorship. In the same year, they opened 200 new pop-up libraries and gave 10,775 books to children from low-income families or remote communities. They also conducted 970 read-aloud sessions in 50 playgroups and published 30,000 copies of multilingual baby books. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Reading Out of Poverty on their website. You can also contribute by volunteering, fundraising, or donating personal books. In addition, you can buy children’s books from their online bookstore.

National Literacy Trust: Transforming Lives Through Literacy

The National Literacy Trust was founded in 1992 in the UK by Sir Simon Hornby to improve reading, writing, and speaking skills in the most disadvantaged communities. Today, they help children improve their literacy skills, conduct research on literacy issues, and work to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents.

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the National Literacy Trust spent 60% of their total income on charitable programs, 16% on fundraising, 12% on data research, and 8% on literacy training and consultancy.

We are dedicated to raising literacy levels across the UK. To achieve this, we are working with schools and communities to give disadvantaged children the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

National Literacy Trust

What they do: The National Literacy Trust improves the literacy skills of very young children by teaching parents effective communication techniques. They also help primary schoolers by creating literacy guides for parents and equipping school teachers to instill a passion for reading and writing. Moreover, they run programs for secondary schoolers and their teachers to improve literacy teaching methods. In addition, they collaborate with organizations that fight to improve adult literacy levels among prisoners and low-literate communities. They also advocate with legislators and parents to raise awareness of the importance of literacy

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the National Literacy Trust has continued to increase literacy levels in the UK. For example, in 2021, they improved the literacy skills of 700,000 children who were out of school or couldn’t access digital learning during COVID-19. In the same year, they worked with 6,500 schools and distributed nearly 600,000 books to children in disadvantaged communities. They also launched the Education Recovery portal to support students with delayed literacy development because of COVID-19 lockdowns. Moreover, their awareness campaigns reached nearly 500 million people across their social media channels.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the National Literacy Trust on their website. You can also support them by joining their educational community with literacy resources. In addition, you can fundraise, apply for a job, or gift Literacy Toolkits

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that promote literacy. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to promoting literacy – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

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PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Diana Stancu

Diana loves to research and write about topics that bring awareness to communities in need. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and considers herself a lifelong learner who strives to increase her knowledge and expertise. Outside of work, she enjoys writing fiction, creating cooking recipes, studying philosophy, and taking sunset photos.

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