Our Story

ALNF was founded in 1999 by Mary-Ruth Mendel and Kim Kelly, who are passionate about helping people in Australia’s most marginalised communities gain literacy skills.

Mary-Ruth Mendel is a leading Speech Pathologist specialising in assisting people of all ages with literacy and learning difficulties through her private practice, The Speech Language & Literacy Centre. Mendel has spent over 30 years distilling international research on literacy and learning into effective teaching techniques that have led to highly successful and sought-after therapeutic practices.

Kim Kelly is a mother of four with a background in business management. Kelly has dedicated almost 20 years to ensuring that children are given equal access to the literacy skills many Australians take for granted and is a tireless advocate of the power of literacy to transform lives.

In 1994, Mendel and Kelly were introduced and with their shared passion for providing best-practice literacy support programs to school teachers, they created an extension to Mendel’s private practice in The Sydney Literacy Centre.

Television coverage of Mendel’s success with clients experiencing reading, writing and comprehension impairment led to an avalanche of phone calls, more than 3000, from distraught parents and community members wanting to help children, staff and family who were struggling to read at even the most basic level.

In response, Mendel and Kelly began their journey to establish a charity that could properly and equitably assist people in need of literacy support, and the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) was born. It took several years for ALNF to receive tax-deductibility status, becoming the first literacy and numeracy foundation in Australia to do so.

Today, ALNF raises funds to continue to develop, implement and sustain innovative literacy programs for individuals, families and communities.

Some of ALNF’s achievements include:
• Winning a SXSW innovation award in the category of ‘Innovation in Connecting People’ for its Living First Language Project at the 2019 awards in Austin, Texas.
• Being a finalist in the 2016 Google Impact Challenge for its Living First Languages Project.
• Receiving the Best Community Project Award at the Australian Sustainability Awards for its First Language Reading Course in Indigenous communities.
• The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Refugee Council of Australia identifying ALNF’s Refugee Action Support (RAS) Program as a model of excellence.
• Receiving the UNAA Media Peace Award, in conjunction with The Sydney Morning Herald, for their collaboration on ALNF’s Indigenous literacy appeal.
• RAS being identified as a finalist for the prestigious MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.