The mission of Literacy Austin is to provide basic literacy and English as a Second Language instruction for adults, ages 17 and older, who read below the fifth grade level.

The vision of Literacy Austin is to improve the quality of an adult’s life through literacy skills.

Literacy Austin is the primary provider or basic literacy instruction for adults functioning at the lowest levels in the greater Austin area. We provide:

  • One-to-one basic literacy and small group English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction with the help of volunteer tutors.
  • Barrier-free education at no cost and with no minimum requirements for entry.
  • Community awareness of the extent and consequences of adult illiteracy in Austin.

Who Are The Students?

The students are people you work with and pass by everyday. Literacy Austin provides instruction for approximately 1200 students each year.

  • We work with adults who read and write below the 5th grade level.
  • Most of our students live in poverty despite working full-time.
  • A majority of our students are parents of school-aged children.
  • About 60% come to us with limited proficiency in English.

How Do We Serve Students?

We recruit and train volunteers who provide one-to-one tutoring at locations throughout Austin, for adults wishing to learn to read, write, or speak English.

  • Volunteers complete 15 hours of training and make a six-month commitment.
  • Tutors receive ongoing training and support.
  • We currently have 205 active volunteers.
  • We offer small group tutoring at our Literacy Center for students waiting to be matched one-to-one.
  • We also offer basic Math instruction.

To enroll in our program, the student must attend one of our orientation sessions. Call to find out the dates for the next orientation. For more information on volunteering, see the How You Can Help section.

How You Can Help

Literacy Austin is always looking for new volunteers. New students come in every week to sign up for our services, so the waiting list for a tutor is getting longer!

  • Enter a job training or GED program
  • Secure employment
  • Develop new skills and more easily support their family
  • Read a warning label on a prescription bottle
  • Read a bedtime story to a child

Interested volunteers can attend a one-hour orientation which tells about the program and outlines the volunteer opportunities. You can find a schedule of upcoming orientation and training dates in the Calendar section.

Those wishing to become tutors complete a 15-hour training workshop held in the evenings at our Center. During the workshop, the volunteer will be matched one-to-one with a literacy or English as a Second Language student or be assigned to teach one of our center classes on a space-available basis. Once matched, we ask that the tutor and student meet twice a week for an hour and a half each time.

For volunteers who cannot make a six-month commitment, we have other opportunities such as helping with office work, substitute teaching, assisting with special events and volunteer fairs or working for our annual book sale and fundraiser, BookFest.