Who We Are

Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, Inc. (LIT) is the only non-profit organization of its kind working to end illiteracy among New York’s incarcerated young people by inspiring them to read.

Statement of Need

Illiteracy and a lack of interest in reading are among the unmet needs of detained and incarcerated youth.

There is a link between engaging young people in meaningful activities, particularly those aimed at helping to shape young people’s identities and outlooks, and their ability to desist from crime. Reading and the practice of literacy—which include access to a library and library services—is a direct way in which young people can begin to focus their identities and outlooks more positively.

The New York City Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) receives over 7,000 young people between the ages of 8 and 16 into its custody annually. DJJ reports that 96% of these young people read two or more years below grade level. OCFS serves approximately 1,800 young people each year, and over 60 per cent of them are assessed below grade level in reading when they enter custody.

In addition to these systemic issues, school libraries throughout New York City are woefully underfunded. LIT makes it possible for school libraries serving New York’s detained and incarcerated youth to acquire new books and other library media at a rate three times greater than that of school library allocations received from State and City funding.