Book-stairs

June 10, 2015; ChicagoInno

According to the Chicago Literacy Alliance (CLA), about 53 percent of adults in the city have low or limited literacy levels.  And, as in most major U.S. cities, Chicago’s public schools are strapped for cash—to the tune of a $1.1 billion budget deficit, which means some students are not getting as much help as they need with literacy skills. It’s no surprise that nonprofits have been working hard to address these literacy issues, or that new nonprofits have been popping up in Chicago’s literacy community.

It was a surprise, however, when a roomful of CLA members discovered—almost by chance—that as many as 19 literacy organizations were working with a single school, each without knowing the others were there. Despite all that help—or perhaps because of it—literacy rates at the school were still dropping. From that discovery of well-intentioned but poorly coordinated efforts came the inspiration for Literacenter, a 22,000-square-foot coworking space for literacy nonprofits, which officially opened last week in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

As reported on ChicagoInno, Literacenter “combines the collaborative nature of tech coworking spaces with the solution-oriented mission of nonprofits.” According to the Literacenter website, its members “run the spectrum from early childhood service organizations through agencies specializin