Low literacy affects entire communities, and Chicago is no exception.


of adults in Chicago (882,000 people) have low basic literacy skills and would benefit from adult literacy and adult basic education services.


of Chicago’s public school students do not meet or exceed reading standards.


of low-income households do not own any children’s books.

From reading an early picture book all the way through acquiring essential computer and communications technology skills, literacy is the key to a successful and independent life, and to a vibrant and sustainable city.

The Chicago Literacy Alliance was formed with a collective passion to help people of all ages and backgrounds receive the critical literacy support they need, from basic education and tutoring through enrichment, literary arts, and book distribution.

Working together, we envision a future in which 100% of Chicagoland residents are functionally literate, and in which that shared literacy is a defining characteristic and point of pride for the city.

History & Impact

In 2009, a small group of literacy nonprofits came together to discuss ways to share resources.

During that first meeting, we discovered that all of us were offering programs in the same small school (Schiller Elementary) — and that none of us knew the others were there. Realizing that working together would help us avoid over-resourcing one school and underserving others, we began communicating about our work and our experiences. As time went on, we started partnering on Literacy Nights and other coordinated projects. And in 2012, realizing how valuable our collaborations had become, we formed the Chicago Literacy Alliance and began reaching out to other groups across the city.

As our network grew, so did our vision. In 2015, inspired by the possibilities of working together on an ever-closer basis, we opened the Literacenter, North America’s first shared workspace dedicated to literacy. Now, with an ever-growing slate of active member organizations and a regular schedule of programs, events, and opportunities, we are an essential part of the city’s literacy landscape and remain passionately committed to fostering cooperation and collaboration for the cause.

In total, CLA’s member organizations serve more than 18 million people each year, from young children through adults.