Introducing Project Literacy’s IlliteraCity, supported by Idris Elba

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The Project Literacy Program aims to put an end to illiteracy around the world by 2030 and help improve the lives and futures of hundreds of millions of people.

Imagine an American city with 32 million inhabitants, packed in like unhappy sardines. It’s not a safe modern place like most of us are used to, instead it’s plagued by unemployment, homelessness and misery. People have poor health and the life expectancy is lower than anywhere else in the country. When it comes to the work, the city costs the economy $225 billion in lost tax revenues, low productivity and crime. Worst of all, you won’t find this city on any maps and no one is coming to help.

At least, that was true up until recently. But why is this city such a terrible place?

These problems all have the same root cause: illiteracy.

Welcome to #IlliteraCity

Called IlliteraCity, this place is a representation of the 750 million people worldwide who cannot read or write. The above description is what IlliteraCity would look like in the US. In the UK, it would be the second largest city by population.

Despite there being so many illiterate people around the world, it’s almost as if they were invisible.

But once we start to think about populations of illiterate people in terms of cities and come to understand the severe problems these people are experiencing, we start to get a much clearer idea of how terrible the issue really is.

Supported by Idris Elba, IlliteraCity is part of the Project Literacy Program, which you can explore here on our interactive website – Project Literacy: IlliteraCity.

You’ll be able to explore different parts of the city by clicking and dragging your mouse. You’ll visit the poverty section and see how illiteracy affects people’s lives, you’ll see how hard it is for people to find employment and discover why people often get sucked into a life of crime. But most of all, you’ll see how you can get involved to help build more literate futures.

More about Project Literacy

Project Literacy began in response to the global illiteracy crisis. Its aim is to recruit people and organizations from all corners of the earth in order to enact change and improve people’s lives.  

We hope that by 2030 we will have put an end to the crisis and brought more wealth, happiness and health to people by helping people learn to read, write and communicate effectively.

Of course, this is by no means an easy task – and no one person, government or company can do it alone. We are very thankful to the 100 plus partners, which are working hard in more than 35 countries, for their support and action.

By building these partnerships and sharing our collective resources and expertise, we can help those 750 million people change their lives for the better.

And it’s working.

As we explained in our previous article announcing the initiative’s launch, “over 7 million people are directly benefiting from Project Literacy’s investment campaigns and programs.”

Let’s work together for positive change

We’re off to a great start, but we can’t achieve our goals without driven, enthusiastic people.

Together we have all the resources, money and privileges we need to make sure that no child grows up without an education and without being able to read and write. We simply need to pull together to make it work.

We’re sure you’re wondering how you can get things moving. So here’s how other people are contributing:


Volunteer your time at a local literacy charity. Not only is working with your community a very rewarding experience, but it has a lasting impact on the people you are supporting. However much time you can offer is valuable. Whether you just do it once, or commit to regular volunteering, you’ll make a difference.

If that sounds like you, become a volunteer today!

Reading Wanda’s story

Support the program by downloading Wanda’s story – here you can learn about how we are helping to  re-write the lives of those living with illiteracy for free. For every download made, we will donate $1 to Project Literacy.

You can download Wanda’s story here.

Learning more

Finally, Project Literacy supporters can subscribe to the newsletter. Here, you’ll learn more about the initiative and the work that our partners are doing in their communities.

Support project literacy and work with us and make the world a better, more literate place.

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