WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In spite of insurmountable challenges, Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. located in Northeast Washington, DC's Ward 7, believes that it can drastically reduce the illiteracy rate by working with the community to stamp out illiteracy. Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, a non-profit organization, has taken a proactive approach to tackling this problem by identifying issues that are directly related to the struggles of many residents of Ward 7. The most apparent is the high unemployment rate. On Thursday, February 24, at a news conference at 12 p.m., Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. will kick off a campaign to improve the lives of the citizens in Ward 7 by reducing the illiteracy rate. Local, City and Federal officials have been invited and are scheduled to attend. Ward 7 has been called the back door to the Nation's Capitol, because of its proximity to Capitol Hill. But with its close proximity to the most powerful government in the world, Ward 7 has the highest rate of illiteracy than all of the Wards in the District of Columbia. Nearly 24,000 young adults between the ages of 16 to 24, read at or below the 9th grade level. Of that number, nearly one-third read at or below the 4th grade level. There is a strong belief that there is a direct relationship between the estimated 24,000 young adults suffering from the social ills associated with illiteracy and the most recent high unemployment rate.* The unemployment rate for Ward 7 is 19.7 %, which is more than twice the national rate and DC's rate. The new campaign entitled "Stamping Out Illiteracy in Ward 7" will be funded in part by donations raised by the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization's "Penny Drive - Stamping Out Illiteracy One Cent at a Time." This campaign is to support and expand the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization's Adult Education programs. "We are committed to this fight to help young adults in Ward 7 to overcome illiteracy," said Doris Sarumi, Interim President of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization. "We decided that we will not close our doors to the people of this Ward. We are committed to raising $100,000 over the next twelve months that will assist in the expansion of our programs and bring attention to the burning issue of illiteracy in our Ward and in the Nation's Capital," she said. "We hope to attract volunteers from all walks of life who are willing to give a few hours per week to tutor math, reading, history, science, financial literacy and life skills. Others may want to donate teaching materials, equipment, and technology." During the "Penny Drive," elected officials, faith based community organizations, community businesses, corporate partners, and many others are asked to be a part of the "Penny Drive - Stamping Out Illiteracy one cent at a time," by placing containers in their lobbies, offices, and churches throughout the year to collect pennies. For more information on Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. visit www.mhcdo.org.The Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc. (MHCDO) is a non-profit community-based organization that has undertaken community development activities in the Ward 7 area of Washington, DC since 1979. MHCDO's mission is to help grow Ward 7 into the District of Columbia's most welcoming, prospering, livable community for everyone. *Publication entitled Ward 7 for Life Ward 7 HIV/AIDS Collaborative and an recent article written by Aaron Morrissey on November 22, 2010 -- excerpts taken from a Meet the Press round table discussion. CONTACT: Daisha Badgett of NPJ Advertising & Public Relations, Inc., +1-202-338-4200 x 302 SOURCE Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Inc.