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Reading is fundamental

L.A.'s literacy programs promote letter and law

One in five Los Angeles-area women can’t read this sentence. A Department of Education study also shows the most accurate predictor of a child’s academic success is the literacy of the child’s mother. These orgs are finding new ways to support women and words.

WriteGirl: Founded in 2001 by Keren Taylor, WriteGirl matches girls from low-performing high schools with professional women writers who serve as mentors. Participants engage in self-expression through writing via workshops and one-on-one sessions. In addition to publishing nationally reviewed anthologies (available on, Taylor says all WriteGirl alumnae have not only graduated high school but also enrolled in college. “That’s astounding,” Taylor says. “The dropout rate in L.A. hovers around 50%.” Donations are always needed: visit

Prototypes: Low literacy skills often go hand-in-hand with other social problems like poverty, substance abuse and unemployment. How to reach those most at risk? For Pitzer College professor Laura Harris, the answer is to look within.

Working with student volunteers at Prototypes Women’s Center in Pomona, Calif., Harris says her program “focuses on the autobiographical as means to achieve reading and writing literacy.” Women compose journals, read assigned books and write the story of their lives. Harris says dictionaries, notebooks, journals, pens and refreshment funds are always appreciated. For more information or to donate, contact

Volunteers: Pasadena-based California Literacy is the nation’s largest network of volunteers and adult learners. The org supports literacy programs statewide, including private orgs to library foundations, ESL services and prison literacy courses. Educational materials and easy-reading literature are available to members at Cal Lit’s private library. The org also publishes newsletters and coordinates support systems for learners. More info:

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