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Mayor Wu Announces Launch of Task Force to Address Gaps in Literacy Rates in the City of Boston

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the launch of the Task Force to Address Literacy Rates in the City of Boston. Per City ordinance, the task force is charged with studying literacy rates, developing an action plan for the City to support individuals in accessing education and City services, and providing program and policy recommendations for increasing literacy. The task force will be housed in the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet and consist of 15 members.

“City government should help improve the lives of all residents regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or their literacy level,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This task force is critical in helping us understand and address literacy gaps in our city’s communities. I’m grateful to all of the task force members for their service and look forward to ensuring that Boston is a city for everyone.”

"The last time the City of Boston conducted a literacy study was in 2003. My office filed an ordinance to establish this literacy task force not only to measure literacy rates throughout the city but also to address the systemic issues attached to low literacy skills," said Boston City Councilor At-Large, Julia Mejia. "This work is very personal to me. My mother only made it to the third grade and struggles to read and write in Spanish as well as English. Unfortunately, there are many others like my mom. Roughly 1 in 5 adults across the United States struggle with being able to read or write English. At least some level of reading or writing is required to communicate and access an overwhelming majority of services and information offered by the City of Boston, creating barriers for many." 

“We are excited for the task force on Literacy to begin its work,” said Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of Equity and Inclusion. “Members of this task force have lived experiences themselves or professional experience working with individuals who have been incarcerated, learning English later in life, or with limited education. The work of this task force will equip the City of Boston with valuable information to better support our residents, families and Boston’s communities.” 

In accordance with the ordinance, the task force members are appointed representatives of community organizations, current and former Boston Public Schools students, adults with lived literacy experience, and City of Boston staff members. 

Task force members include: 

  1. Edith Bazile, Founder, Black Advocates for Educational Excellence
  2. Yorsalem Brhane, Student, Boston International Newcomers Academy 
  3. Manuel Coronado, Alumnus, Brighton High School and Immigrants Lead Boston
  4. Gayana Daniel, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office of Language and Communications Access 
  5. Lori D’Avella, Program Director, Charlestown Adult Education
  6. Papa Diop, Education Unit Manager, Boston Centers for Youth and Families 
  7. Xiomara Gomez, Student, Gardner Pilot Academy Adult ESOL Program
  8. Lee Haller, Director of Programs, English for New Bostonians
  9. Stephen Hunter, Adult Education Director, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
  10. David Leonard, President, Boston Public Library
  11. Councilor Julia Mejia, At-Large City Councilor
  12. Lesley Ryan Miller, Chief of Teaching and Learning, Boston Public Schools
  13. Monique Tú Nguyen, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement 
  14. Trinh Nguyen, Chief, Worker Empowerment Cabinet 
  15. Nicole Simeon, Student, Bunker Hill Community College; First Literacy Scholar

“The task force is important and will help people who cannot communicate or develop in society because of the English language barrier or because of the economic resources they have,” said Xiomara Gomez, a student of the Gardner Pilot Academy Adult ESOL Program.

The task force members will begin meeting on Friday, June 23, 2023. Dr. Elizabeth Santiago, Founder of Elevate Stories and The Untold Narratives, will work closely with the appointed members to facilitate the development of a vision and work plan for the task force. 

“As the daughter of non-English speaking parents, I understand how much language and literacy matter in developing a sense of belonging and building opportunities.” said Dr. Elizabeth Santiago. “This is a chance to shine a spotlight on literacy needs of Boston residents.”

More information about the Literacy Task Force is available here

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