When agency work feels more like a mission.

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Making a difference.

It’s a powerful motivator. Positive change is the primary goal of most of our clients—whether encouraging healthier behaviors, job growth, financial literacy, sustainable communities, and more. It’s the kind of work that feels more like a mission than a job.

Like our recent work with Reading Works, a Detroit-based nonprofit dedicated to improving adult literacy. Reading Works collaborates with community impact partners like Focus Hope and Southwest Solutions to teach adults to read so that they can enjoy a better life and greater opportunities.

The cause is critically important.  One in three adults in Metro Detroit reads below a sixth grade level—twice as bad as the national average. The problem of low literacy is even worse in Detroit where it impacts 40 percent of adults.

Adult illiteracy casts a long shadow. Children of low-literacy parents are 87 percent more likely to be growing up in poverty. When adults learn to read well, it’s life changing. Increased adult literacy corresponds to decreased poverty, decreased crime, reduced overall health care burden, increased child literacy, long-term economic growth and increased per-capita income.

Moreover, improving adult literacy is key to Detroit’s revival. A great workforce, robust neighborhoods and confident children succeeding in the classroom depend on it.

Still, adult illiteracy is overshadowed by other causes. And most people aren’t aware of the magnitude of the problem, according to a recent informal Brogan Talks to Women survey. Nor are they familiar with Reading Works.

  • 40 percent are surprised to learn that one in three adults in Detroit read below sixth grade level.
  • 12 percent have heard of Reading Works.

But people are ready to lean in and learn more. They’re especially interested in its impact on poverty, job skills, crime and community revitalization. Of the 133 respondents surveyed:

  • 96 percent agree or strongly agree that adult literacy is “critical to addressing employment, education…healthcare, citizenship, incarceration and neighborhood revitalization.”
  • 89 percent are compelled by the fact that children of low literacy adults are far more likely to grow up in poverty.
  • 87 percent are motivated by the statement “adults who achieve reading proficiency qualify for better jobs that can move their children and families out of poverty.”

These insights helped inform our creative strategy to bolster awareness and spark action, beginning with a short video to frame the issue. The video was launched earlier this month as part of Reading Works’ bid to win up to $100,000 from A Community Thrives.

Take a look and let us know your thoughts. (And vote for Reading Works through May 12, 2017.) We’ll be reshaping this creative for other channels to connect with volunteers and donors. For more of our social marketing work, visit our portfolio.

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