Winning the fight for literacy justice

starting place

In schools across the country, an estimated 33,000,000 students in grades K-12 (total population assumed to be 50 million) are not proficient in reading and, in some schools, there’s only a 3% literacy rate at graduation. When our young people are not literate, they do not have the opportunity to meaningfully exercise their vote, pursue higher education, or attain jobs, and the foundation of our society and country is at risk. Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro-bono law firm, filed a landmark lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan advocating for thousands of Detroit public school students with the plan to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. The law firm asked enso to help spark a cultural movement around the lawsuit’s core principle: the constitutional right to literacy for students everywhere.

what we did

Recognizing the need to spark a cultural fire for the literacy mission, enso and Public Counsel convened more than 100 leaders and activists from the worlds of education, pop culture, public policy, business, civil rights, design, and philanthropy at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. On June 19 and 20, 2017 we brought together the charter members of this movement for a collaborative creative sprint with the goal of surfacing new ideas that make the issue infamous and the need for collective action urgent.

World Value℠ impact

The cultural and legal fight for the universal right to literacy will be a multi-year effort that will likely go all the way to the Supreme Court. The leaders we gathered for the initial summit are working in pods to galvanize the resources and support of their constituents to raise awareness and push cultural change on a community and national level, while Public Counsel and its network of attorneys will continue to advance the groundbreaking legal efforts. As Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe described the effort, “If you think of Brown v. Board as one shoe that dropped, this is the other shoe.” Our mission won’t be realized until that other shoe drops, and everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, has equal access and opportunity to learn and meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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