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Dollar General Foundation Commits $5M to Fighting Illiteracy

Retailer’s recent report found the pandemic has significantly impacted literacy learning
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is doling out $5 million in grants to five organizations committed to adult and child literacy.

 The Dollar General Literacy Foundation will donate $5 million in grants to five organizations committed to advancing literacy, providing professional development for instructors and developing technology and learning tools. Among the grant recipients are Save the Children, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, DonorsChoose, Discovery Education and the Children’s Defense Fund.    

The organizations chosen are each actively working to address the literacy needs identified in the new "State of American Literacy" report released by the foundation. The report surveyed students, parents, teachers, adult learners and literacy experts and found that the pandemic has had a significant impact on literacy learning for both adults and children. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has set back many in their education and literacy learning efforts and threatens to deepen the literacy crisis,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and VP of corporate social responsibility at Dollar General. “We know the devastating impacts of low literacy on an individual’s quality of life limiting opportunities for advancement in the workforce, access to higher education, engagement in civic activity, and even effects on health. 

“Through our research we are better able to understand the needs of the field and empower teachers, students and communities to harness the power of literacy and education at this critical juncture,” Torr continued.

The foundation’s report found that about three-quarters of teachers surveyed are teaching more students now who have difficulty reading than they did before the pandemic, and also that adult learners need more flexible and accessible solutions for literacy learning.

As such, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is committed to investing in professional development for instructors, high-quality reading instruction, and recruiting, training and placing volunteer tutors. The five chosen grant recipients will contribute to these impact areas through their strategic programming:

  • Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: A two-year commitment to support implementation of the National Action Plan for Adult Literacy, with a focus on boosting literacy organizations, advancing professional development for teachers and identifying opportunity gaps.
  • Save the Children: Providing support for in-school and afterschool programming for K-3 students, inclusive of digital book access, training and technical assistance and support for the Rural Library Network.
  • DonorsChoose: Matching donations on all book-related projects posted by teachers across the U.S. on
  • Discovery Education in Partnership with National Afterschool Association: Launching a no-cost, nationwide literacy platform focused on supporting teachers with research-based micro-learnings, providing standards-aligned resources to advance the application of new strategies, and create equitable access to tools and resources for under-resourced communities, both in and out of school.
  • Children’s Defense Fund:  Funding the southern expansion of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools program, which provides high-quality, culturally responsive academic enrichments to K-12 grade students nationally. 

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation was created in 1993 to honor Dollar General co-founder J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate and never completed a formal education. Since its inception, the organization has donated more than $203 million to support literacy advancement. 

Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General is No. 15 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Dollar General is also PG's 2021 Retailer of the Year.    

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