Literacy Statistics

As a nation, we spend more on PREMIUM label ice cream than on adult education and literacy. Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. is working to change this trend.


Ninety-three million Americans function at the two lowest levels of literacy. The adult basic education and literacy system serves only 3 million a year - and that includes all public (federal, state and local) and philanthropic funding.

Fourteen percent at the lowest level cannot:

  • locate an intersection on a map
  • calculate the total cost on an order form

29 percent of the population at the second lowest level cannot:

  • use a bus schedule
  • balance a checkbook

In Wisconsin:

  • More than 1.5 million adults in Wisconsin qualify for literacy services.
  • Thirty-nine percent of our state read at the two lowest levels of literacy.
  • In 2015, at our member agencies, more than 4,000 volunteer tutors provided over 280,000 hours of tutoring to more than 13,000 adult learners.