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How to Volunteer with the Illiterate


The most common way to volunteer in literacy is to become a tutor, working one-on-one with a student or a group of students.
The most common way to volunteer in literacy is to become a tutor, working one-on-one with a student or a group of students.
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Frank Laubach believed the ability to read and write was essential for lifting people out of oppression and poverty. While working as a missionary in the Philippines in the 1930s, Laubach started a literacy tutoring program, "Each One Teach One," that would take him to 103 countries in the next 40 years [source: Laubach Literacy Ontario].

In 1955 the "Apostle to the Illiterates" founded Laubach Literacy International, which became the largest volunteer-based literacy organization in the United States. In 2002, it merged with Literacy Volunteers of America to become ProLiteracy America, which has 1,200 affiliates in all 50 states [source: ProLiteracy].

Laubach and other literacy pioneers have made significant inroads in teaching the world to read. But the need for tutors remains. Despite the thousands of literacy programs in the United States, the inability to read, write and solve basic math problems continues to be both a national and global problem with no end in sight.

In the United States alone, 14 percent of the adult population can't read well enough to understand a newspaper story or fill out a job application [source: ProLiteracy]. Especially in today's struggling economy, those skills are absolutely necessary. More than 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate, and the United States ranks fifth in adult literacy among industrialized nations [source: ProLiteracy]. No doubt there's clear room for improvement -- lucky for us, outlets are in place to help that happen. It's simple to seek help, and the opportunity to assist those in need is easy as well.

To learn more about how you can help fight illiteracy across the United States and the globe, head to the next page.


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