Facts and Stats

What is Literacy?

Literacy in simplest terms means the ability to read and write, but more precisely it is “the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” (1)

23% of Arkansans (nearly 500,000) are at or below the lowest level of literacy. Adults at this level of literacy range from being able to read short texts and perform simple tasks to having only very basic vocabulary and being functionally illiterate. (2)

38% of Arkansans (over 800,000) are at or below level two of literacy, meaning they are near proficiency but still struggle with text-based tasks, making life much more difficult. (2). 

What is the Rate of Literacy in the United States?

43 Million

U.S. adults struggle with literacy; they cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level. (3)

8.4 Million

adults fall below the level of basic literacy skills. Yet less than 10% of adults in need are receiving services. (3)

 20 million

immigrants (47%) are not proficient in speaking English. (4)

In Arkansas


adults function at or below basic literacy skills. (1)


of adults don’t have a high school diploma. (5)

In Central Arkansas

almost 100,000

adults have below basic literacy skills. (2, 6)

Literacy impacts every aspect of adult life. Adults with better literacy skills are more likely to…

  • Read to their children and help with homework

  • Be employed full time in family-supporting jobs

  • Receive a higher income and manage their money well

  • Have better health outcomes and lower costs

  • Vote, volunteer, and access information about current events

  • Stay out of legal trouble