Artists For Literacy leverages the power of art and artists to make complex texts and social issues more accessible.
Our official mission is to influence community, public and private sector support for literacy. We engage artists in the issue of literacy and channel their contributions into effective awareness and education tools. We advocate for literacy as defined by the capacity to understand, interpret and communicate effectively in order to participate in one's community and wider society. This includes our commitment to advocating life-long learning, reading comprehension, media literacy, health literacy and financial literacy.
Artists for Literacy embraces all forms of art -- dance, theater, film, music -- to engage audiences in the conversation about literacy and its inextricable link to living a passionate, meaningful life. We continually seek to foster literary and artistic appreciation, critical thinking, increased confidence, curiosity, and civic participation.
In 2000, the California State Library gave us a grant to explore the connection between low-level readers and songs that might connect them to literature that would otherwise be inaccessible. In 2001, we launched the Songs Inspired By Literature Project (SIBL) to raise money for free tutoring programs around the country that serve the 45 million adults who read below a 4th grade level. In 2004, we launched The Ekphrasis Project, which brought the work of Artists for Literacy into the classrooms. From 2005 to 2011, we worked with the University of Maryland and their graduate curriculum development department, under the direction of Dr. Steven Seldon. In 2011, we launched Cool the World, to lend our voices to the urgent conversations around climate change. We are now embarking on a partnership with the Lit Remix Project, in order to take our methodologies into the tech space, by creating applications that enable students to engage with each other around songs inspired by the books they read in schools.
Over the years, we have functioned mostly as an all-volunteer organization, maintaining a modest overhead while still keeping up a strong presence in the community. We have been fiscally supported by donations from individuals as well as from sales of our CDs from the Songs Inspired By Literature Project. This project was originally funded and supported by the extraordinary people at the California State Library, once headed by the wise and wonderful Dr. Kevin Starr, who has been instrumental to our success. We are also indebted to Project Read, at the San Francisco Library, headed up by Randall Weaver.
A graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University and a participant in The Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars Program, Deborah Pardes has thrived as a writer, musician and producer for over 3 decades. She has used art and technology to enliven the experience of traditional storytelling. From producing community events to launching multi-national music competitions, Deborah has worked in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She’s been a content strategist and senior writer for hi-tech and entertainment product launches, with clients including Warner Bros, Sony, Iomega, AMD and Apple. Her original media projects can be viewed @ deborahpardes.com.
In 2000, Deborah founded Artists for Literacy. She had written a song inspired by a book - Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. After feedback from her live shows, she realized that songs inspired by literature were great vehicles to inspire reading. The Songs Inspired By Literature Project (SIBL) was born. Her work with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Tom Waits, & Roseanne Cash has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, BBC, and All Things Considered (NPR ).
She’s also a music composer and producer, with 8 CDs to her name. Deborah is also the author of Climbing Out From Under: A Handbook For Heartbreak, available on Amazon.
Here's the song that Deborah wrote that sparked here idea for this project. 7th Step - Inspired by Angela's Ashes.