Ocean Beach Artist Ray Blavatt Is Semifinalist in National Adult Literacy Project

by on August 17, 2017 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

Ray Blavatt

You’ve probably seen Ray Blavatt’s cartoon drawings around town at the local coffee houses, but didn’t know he has been the animator for a special program for adult literacy.

Now, in fact, Ray is part of a team that is a semifinalist in a national adult literacy project called X Prize. He is the team’s animator and has created their titles that have taught over 1 million students.

Ray is part of another team – the team of locals who keep the Ocean Beach Historical Society going. Often working quietly in the background, he provides tech support to the OBHS during their monthly presentations.

One of Ray’s hand drawn cartoons he did at one of the Coffee houses.

Ray’s adult literacy team is only one of two semifinalists from the US West Coast, and it’s called “Learning Upgrade”.

Learning Upgrade Team with Ray in lower right.

Here is background on Learning Upgrade:

Learning Upgrade

About Us

Founded in 1998 by educators, musicians, artists and programmers in San Diego, Learning Upgrade designs innovative, engaging lessons to support struggling students in reading and math. Through the incorporation of songs, video, games and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped over 1 million students make learning breakthroughs.

In Adult Literacy, we have partnered with Los Angeles Public Library Adult Literacy to deploy our lessons with hundreds of learners at branch libraries, using web-based online courses. We have also worked with San Diego Public Library, Job Corps, and Community Colleges to provide literacy and math instruction for low-literate adults.

Our online courses have delivered proven growth with a variety of students including English Learners, special needs, and learners in poverty. These results have been documented in a number of studies over the past few years.

More on X Prize Selection Process:


In selecting the semifinalist teams we are one step closer to eliminating the barriers to literacy learning for the over 36 million low literate adults living in the United States. Their technology will disrupt the cycle of isolation, lack of opportunity and poverty for these individuals and their families. We are one step closer to the radical new approach to adult literacy learning.

The applications developed by our semifinalists will offer low literate adults the needed skills to improve their literacy affording them multitudes of opportunities. We look forward to their groundbreaking solutions and the journey ahead.

Hat tip to Kathy B.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie August 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm

WOW-Way to go Ray!

This news is fantastic and well deserved. You are a great artist, kind and caring person.

I am so proud of your accomplishments and happy to know you and Kathy all these years.

Good luck!


Colleen Dietzel August 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Congratulations Ray. Thank you for all you do for OB and the world!


retired botanist August 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Honestly, what an honor! I love good news, we never have enough of it, and this is such a great example of good news, wonderful community service, and a poignant contribution to the improvement in the quality of life for others. I love this about OB- there are loads of super talented people in OB working in the background on issues many of of us don’t even think about.
Reading- we take it for granted, right? Move quickly to get our next tweet or uploaded snapchat online. Imagine for a moment what it must be like to live in our world today and not be able to read? I think about ESL folks a lot, as I (an educated senior citizen, english-speaking, and life-long voracious reader) increasingly struggle to navigate and understand the language of, for example, health plans, IRAs, my tax forms, the bundled internet packages, and so on. I frequently now ask this kind of question:
if a 140-page instruction booklet for my tax return, as a low-income earner, is ‘expected’ understanding, where does that leave millions of folks who understand it even less than I do – “Get Turbo Tax” you say..well, we all don’t live in that echelon, some of us still don’t even have computers, and frankly why should I spend $40 a year on my tax form? ….getting even basic services today requires a level of reading ability (and irritatingly, is requiring more and more “smart phone use” as well) that removes so many from the ability to acquire basic services and apply for available resources-
Well done, Ray, thank you so much for making a REAL difference. Because if one doesn’t know how to read the instructions, its pretty hard to move forward :-)


TSU August 18, 2017 at 9:04 am

Congrats to Ray and Learning Upgrade (https://web.learningupgrade.com/)

There are some things we do in life that have a deeper impact on the Human Condition than the ordinary, and this is one of them.

Being recognized as a Finalist is great and I’m sure the other is also deserving but regardless of the result, here’s hoping that a grant can be found to make this kind of necessary assistance available to all who need it.


Nancy Witt August 18, 2017 at 9:37 am

Thank you, Ray, for your wonderful work in the literacy field.


South OB Girl August 18, 2017 at 10:47 am

GOOO Ray!!!! Congratulations to Ray!!


Marc Snelling August 18, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Nice work Ray!


barbara August 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Congrats Ray !!!
& thank you for shining a light on OB with your hard work & dedication!


Christo August 19, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Congratulations Ray!

You are a huge part of what makes OB such a special place.


nostalgic August 20, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Years ago I was at Superior Court records in San Diego to get copies of some paperwork and filled out the form. While we were there, a man came in and told the records librarian that he had heard you could get copies of a case for free if you had a current case. The librarian did not ask him to fill out the form. She asked him his name, and quietly filled out the forms for him. He waited, fairly impatiently, and when received the papers did not even look at them as he left. Obvious to a bystander, he could neither write nor read. And she had been kind to him. But what Ray is doing is even more. For those in our Society somehow deprived of these basic skills, Ray and his work are offering a new chance in many ways. More than symbolic, it changes lives. Congratulations to Ray for this important interest.


denine August 21, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Congrats Ray!


Dave Chase September 9, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Way to go Ray,
Youu are simply the best,
Congratulations my friend
Love and Hugs . XO
Dave Chase


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