Wal-Mart Conducts Illiteracy Survey To Increase Helpline Awareness

July 29, 2004
National Toll-Free Literacy Helpline Available to Assist: 1-800-929-4458.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
Wendy Sept or Dan Fogleman
(479) 273-4314

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (July 28, 2004) - If you can read this, chances are you underestimate the problem of illiteracy and feel you don’t know how to help. A new survey, commissioned by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., shows that only half of Americans polled (50 percent) understand the extent of the illiteracy problem in the United States and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) don’t know the name of a literacy organization which offers adults help locally.

The survey also found that more than half of Americans (54 percent) say they don’t have the time to help personally - although a clear majority (68 percent) feel they have the skills and patience necessary to teach a functioning illiterate adult to read.

"The survey also shows that we’re frustrated - we know there is a problem, we feel we should help, but we don’t have the time or know where to volunteer or refer somebody who needs assistance," said Marsha Tait, senior vice president of ProLiteracy Worldwide. "Wal-Mart’s helpline can make a big difference for all of us."

The Wal-Mart Literacy Helpline - 1-800-929-4458 - connects callers to the right local literacy organization from among 5,000 nationwide. The one-stop call helps those who want to learn to read, or want to volunteer to help.

"The helpline is ideal for those who may feel too intimidated or embarrassed to ask a friend or family member for help, which is often the case," said Betsy Reithemeyer, vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and executive director of the Wal-Mart SAM’S CLUB Foundation. "It’s one of the most important things we do to support our communities and our customers."

While reading is the gateway to better jobs and a better life, approximately 20 percent of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate - meaning one in five of U.S. adults have difficulty reading a newspaper, difficulty filling out a job application, and difficulty following written instructions.

"Being able to read is extremely important. An adult who learns how to read has more confidence, can secure a better job, and has greater earning potential than those who can’t," said Tait. "Even more importantly, an adult who can fully participate in his or her child’s own experiences with reading, writing, and learning is not only likely to raise a child who will succeed in school, but a child who will succeed in life."

Those who wish to help, or those seeking help for themselves, can call the helpline to quickly identify a local literacy organization. More than 5,000 local literacy organizations participate in the helpline nationwide, and most provide one-on-one or small-group teaching services free of charge.

The free and confidential helpline, which is available to receive calls from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. CST, seven days a week, provides information on literacy outreach organizations that offer reading assistance in callers’ communities. Assistance is available in English or Spanish. Information is also available at www.walmartfoundation.org.

Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB recently awarded more than 4,000 local grants, or more than $6 million, to literacy organizations across the country that support the company’s literacy initiative. Since Wal-Mart launched its national literacy initiative three years ago, the company has donated more than $16 million to literacy programs and served more than 40,000 individuals through its national literacy helpline. Nearly 16,000 students have been referred to literacy centers in their communities for individual assistance.

Literacy is one of many educational causes championed by Wal-Mart associates. Last year alone, Wal-Mart associates raised and contributed $40 million for a variety of educational organizations and programs.

About Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUBS in all 50 states. Internationally, the company operates in Puerto Rico, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, and South Korea. The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. Last year, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., contributed more than $150 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations. Customers and associates raised an additional $70 million at stores and clubs.

More information about Wal-Mart can be located online at www.walmartstores.com and www.walmart.com. The SAM’S CLUB Web site can be accessed at www.samsclub.com. And more information about Wal-Mart’s Good Works community involvement is available online at www.walmartfoundation.org.

About the Survey
This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted July 8-11, 2004 by CARAVAN Opinion Research Corporation among a national probability sample of 1015 adults comprising 509 men and 506 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.