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'Attendance Works' director Hedy Chang to deliver keynote address at Community Literacy Summit

Over 30 million adults in the United States can't read above the third grade level, a status that is categorized as "low literacy." In Grand Rapids, the low literacy rate of adults is 22%; in Kent County, it is 14%.

Low literacy affects all of us. Children who do not read at a proficient level by the third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, not attend college, and become low literate adults. Studies have shown that adults with low literacy skills are more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, and suffer from poor health conditions.

It doesn't have to be this way. Whether you're a parent, an employer, an educator, a health care provider, or other service provider, you can be part of the solution. Here's one way to get involved: Attend the Literacy Center of West Michigan's Community Literacy Initiative's second Community Literacy Summit on Wednesday, September 25 at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center, 1607 Robinson Road. The Community Literacy Summit's goal is to develop a community that is 100% literate.

The Summit will feature workshops on age-speci?c literacy, working with schools, English as a Second Language (ESL), and many other topics related to literacy. Delivering the keynote address is Hedy Chang, director at Attendance Works. Attendance Works is a national- and state-level initiative aimed at advancing student success by addressing chronic absence.

A skilled presenter, facilitator, researcher, and writer, Chang co-authored the seminal report, Present, Engaged and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades, and other articles about student attendance.

Chang has spent more than two decades working in the fields of family support, family economic success, education, and child development. She served as a senior program officer at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and as co-director of California Tomorrow, a nonprofit committed to drawing strength from cultural, linguistic, and racial diversity. In February 2013, Lang was named by the White House as a Champion of Change for her commitment to furthering African American Education.

Registration for the Community Literacy Summit is $35.00 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and workshop materials.

The Community Literacy Initiative (CLI) is a literacy coalition that seeks to empower community leaders, parents, and residents to improve literacy for all ages in West Michigan. CLI is a new formation of the coalition formerly known as Greater Grand Rapids Reads.

Get involved:

- Register online or download a registration packet. The cost for the Summit is $35.
- Visit the Literacy Center's Facebook page.
- Volunteer.
- Donate.

Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of The Literacy Center of West Michigan and  Attendance Works
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