NEW MEMBER PROFILE: Chicago Literacy Alliance


The Chicago Literacy Alliance is an association of more than 135 organizations helping to meet literacy needs for people of all ages and backgrounds. They are dedicated to their mission of increasing the combined impact of our community’s literacy organizations by providing opportunities for creative and effective collaboration. Working together, they envision a 100 percent literate Chicago. Read below to learn more about Chicago Literacy Alliance.


Who are you?

Ken Bigger, executive director of the Chicago Literacy Alliance.

How long have you been in the neighborhood?

The CLA operates the Literacenter, the nation's first co-working space dedicated to literacy, which opened in May of 2015. I have been with the CLA since January of 2018.

Why the West Loop?

Our West Loop location is reasonably easy to reach for our member organizations and their constituents, who operate throughout the Chicago region and beyond.

What are your top challenges in growing the Chicago Literacy Alliance?

We have had enormous success in driving membership growth, from 18 organizations when we opened in 2015 to over 135 organizations today. Our current challenge/opportunity is engaging more individuals, corporations and other institutions to joining our cause and supporting the work of the CLA.

Why did you join the West Central?

We believe that greater literacy is the key to more vibrant, connected communities and a key factor in the overall health of Chicago--from literal health to educational improvement to economic equity and competitiveness. We believe that something exciting is happening here, and are eager to engage the West Central community in pursuing that vision.

What makes the Chicago Literacy Alliance unique?

The Literacenter is just one expression of our belief in the power of collaborative impact. Literacy is an intergenerational, cross-community challenge, and we offer the opportunity for people to make a difference across our community and in the individual lives within it.

What gets you up in the morning?

The knowledge that every day I get to do something that helps someone discover through writing the power of their own voice or discover through reading that they are not alone in the world.

What’s your favorite part of the West Loop?

Aside from the Literacenter, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School -- Go Dolphins!

What does the future look like for Chicago Literary Alliance?

Our future includes Chicagoans and others joining with us to make a sweeping difference in increasing literacy, educational equity, and creating a vibrant, creative, and connected community.

Describe Chicago Literacy Alliance in 140 characters or less

The CLA is a coalition of literacy agencies pursuing a vision of a 100% literate Chicago. We empower our members by fostering creative and effective collaboration.

Bonus Question: Favorite secret spot in Chicago?

You bet.