SVP Fast Pitch: ASU students compete with app that tackles adult illiteracy

More than 36 million adults in the United States and at least half a million adults in Arizona struggle to read.

Quick Facts:

Who: SVP Fast Pitch Arizona is a free two-month communication skills building program and competition for innovative nonprofits in Maricopa County.
What:The nine finalists (including Literacy For All Inc.) will each give a three-minute pitch about their organization. They will compete for more than $50,000 in grants and prizes.
When: 4:30-9 p.m. on March 1
Where: Scottsdale Center for the Arts
More info: Social Venture Partners

Students at Arizona State University launched Literacy For All Inc., an organization devoted to reducing the number of adults who struggle to read above a third-grade level. The group is creating an app to tackle that issue.

Recently, the nonprofit won the student category for the Social Venture Partners Arizona Fast Pitch event. The student group already won a $2,000 prize, and they will compete for more on Tuesday.

One member from the group will give the “fast pitch,” a three-minute presentation about an organization and its mission, to a panel of judges. Nine groups will compete for $50,000.

SVP Fast Pitch is a two-month skills building program that aims to help nonprofit organizations in Maricopa County.

Aziza Ismail, founder of Literacy For All, began her efforts against adult illiteracy while working on her thesis as an undergraduate student at ASU. She noticed how much her mother struggled because of her inability to read.

“My mother never had the opportunity to learn how to read and write,” Ismail said. “I know how hard it has been for her. One day, I noticed how it frustrated her, so it really struck me and got me thinking about how this problem could be resolved.

“I knew my education was important to me, and that I wouldn’t have been where I was today without literacy.”

Adults who cannot read at a “functional” level are twice as likely to be unemployed and have a 50 percent increased risk of hospitalization, according to