How to Volunteer with the Illiterate

Additional Literacy Volunteering

Besides tutoring, there are many ways to help spread literacy. One of those is becoming a literacy advocate to shape public policy and raise awareness about illiteracy in your community.

This could involve making a list of media contacts, writing press releases to get publicity for your local literacy program, sending letters to legislators to get more funding for reading programs and inviting elected officials to literacy-related events.

You can also start a committee that tracks literacy programs in your area, including how many students are enrolled, how many students complete the program and how many people are on the waiting list, and send periodic updates to local officials to secure funding and additional support.

Other options are joining groups that track literacy-related legislation, organizing letter writing campaigns, testifying at special hearings and grilling candidates running for local, state and national office about their stance on literacy issues.

Or, if you prefer something more behind the scenes, you can always donate money, materials or equipment to a literacy organization, serve as a board member, work as a recruiter or provide clerical support.

As we mentioned, there are always options for those willing to put the time and effort into finding them. If you can't work with an established organization, look for other ways you can help on your own.

For more information, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • America's Literacy Directory. (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Curtis, Mary and Kruidenier. "Teaching Adults to Read." National Institute for Literacy. (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Get Caught Reading. "Literacy Facts." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Hager, Ashley. "Techniques for Teaching Beginning-Level Reading to Adults." National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Laubach Literacy Ontario. "Frank Laubach." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Literacy Assistance Center. "Literacy Organizations." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Literacy Presidents. "Raising the Priority of Adult Literacy." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Literacy Volunteers of America. "Adult Basic Literacy Tutor Training Workshop Description." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven. "Requirements for Literacy Volunteer Tutors." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Literacy Volunteers of Morris County. "Volunteer Tutors." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • National Center for Family Literacy. "Advocacy and Policy." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • ProLiteracy. "Find an International Program." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • ProLiteracy. "Find a U.S. Program." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • ProLiteracy. "Who We Are." (Accessed 5/26/2009)
  • Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education. "About SCALE." (Accessed 5/26/2009)