INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indy Reads is helping illiterate adults in Marion County. The non-profit organization’s CEO, Ryan King, told News 8 that one in every six Hoosiers read below a 5th grade level.
“We try to eliminate that stigma in our community that you can admit you don’t read and write at the skill that you want to, there’s a safe space that people can come to and learn to read and write,” King said.
Indy Reads sees about 300 adults a year. Raphael Edou is from Benin, Africa and said he moved to the United States in March. He is learning how to read and write in English with his wife.
“The language is not easy to learn. The pronunciation sometimes makes me nervous and makes me uncomfortable when I want to speak to people,” said Edou.
He’s expected to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before enrolling into a university in 2020. Edou said he wants to either attend the University of Purdue or Harvard to earn a Master’s degree in International Relations and Global Climate Change.
“I’m from a French-speaking country, so to speak English like American people is difficult, but I think that I’m making progress with the work of Indy Reads,” Edou said.
The English Language Learner class (ELL) is one of many programs held at the Central Library. Indy Reads has been teaching adults how to read since 1984.
Students work with an instructor and in groups to encourage one another. They’re also learning interviewing skills and how to write a resume.
“Quite a few people leave and get jobs or they’re here and they get jobs. Just a week ago we had somebody come and tell us they got a job. They’re really excited,” said ELL instructor, Cindy Reinhard.
Sales at the Indy Reads bookstore helps fund the reading programs to help more Hoosiers.
“I would highly encourage folks, especially this time of year, to go in and check out the bookstore and get one of those great gifts for the holiday season,” said Reinhard.
Click here to learn more about Indy Reads and sign up for one of their classes.