In light of developments in the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the Chicago Literacy Alliance (CLA) is working closely with its members and the greater Chicago community to ensure consistent and accurate communication, critical resources, and opportunities for advocacy within the literacy sector.

In response to the outbreak, we conducted a survey of our members, who are literacy and education organizations serving communities throughout Chicago. 

This survey was designed to gain a better understanding of the projected impact of COVID-19 (assuming disruption in services between March 16 and April 30) on the Literacy Sector, both financially and operationally in order for the CLA to better advocate for its members and serve as a hub for critical communication during this time.

Survey Results:

Of the 50% of Chicago Literacy Alliance member organizations that participated in the first round of this survey:

60% have annual operating budgets under 1 million.

Nearly 70% predominantly serve ALAANA (African, Latinx, Arab, Asian, or Native American) communities.

Nearly 1400 programs or events will be disrupted or canceled.

More than 55% of CLA member programs directly serve students. Sector-wide, over 1.1M people will lose access to literacy services over the course of the current pandemic-related shutdown.

75% anticipate losing vital, mission-sustaining revenue in this shut-down, amounting to an estimated $5.8 Million.

More than 37% of our respondents reported canceling a fundraising event due to COVID-19. The average targeted revenue for those fundraising events ranged from $6,000 to $30,000.

Many literacy organizations depend on volunteers. One organization reported that they will need to discontinue the engagement of at least 1500 volunteers.

CLA Response and Resources

For CLA Members:

  • Responsive webinars, addressing how the crisis affects our missions, strategies, and operations
  • Technical support, providing expertise and technological resources to support member operations
  • Financial Relief, pursuing ways to reduce costs for member organizations facing straitened financial circumstances
  • Leadership Roundtables, leveraging our network to provide peer-to-peer exchanges on crisis response insights and best practices

For the Public:

  • THE LIT LIST – our repository of resources dedicated to literacy for families and educators. We will be updating these pages as more resources appear
  • Communicating the disproportionate impact this crisis will have on those living with low literacy, and working with members and funding partners to devise solutions to address the challenge