Becoming A Volunteer - General Information

Community-based literacy programs throughout Illinois depend on volunteers to provide free one-to-one tutoring to low literate adults and those who want to learn English. Low literacy adults are a diverse group of people; a variety of reasons account for their low literacy skills. Adults wishing to learn English are usually immigrants who are planning to stay in the United States on a long-term basis.

To become an adult literacy tutor, most programs request that potential volunteers attend twelve hours of tutor training, generally offered in the evenings or on Saturdays. Some literacy programs charge a small fee for the training to cover the cost of materials. The training enables potential tutors to become familiar with the problem of low literacy, with the population of adult new readers and provides them with essential tools and techniques they will need to help adult learners reach their goals. Many programs also offer in-service training sessions throughout the year to provide tutors with opportunities to strengthen their skills.

After completing the initial tutor training, volunteers are matched with adult learners. The time it to takes to be matched depends on the schedules of both the tutor and learner. Most tutoring is done one-to-one; however, many programs offer the option of working in small groups. Tutors and learners typically meet between one and three hours a week. Usually, programs require a commitment of three to six months from both tutors and learners.

Many programs also need volunteers for other types of work, such as help with mailings, PR activities, special events and serving on Boards and Advisory Committees. Volunteers interested in helping with the cause of literacy, but unable to make the time commitment involved in tutoring, should consider these options.


Chicagoland Volunteer Literacy Program Referral Directory
(For a list of programs near you, click on one of the geographic areas listed below. Includes program hours & volunteer needs)
Central City Literacy Programs
Northside Literacy Programs
Westside Literacy Programs
Southside Literacy Programs
North Suburban Literacy Programs
West Suburban Literacy Programs
South Suburban Literacy Programs

There are nearly one hundred volunteer adult literacy programs throughout the Chicago area that serve the diverse community of adult learners. Many of the programs have numerous tutoring sites at different locations throughout the city and suburbs.

Literacy Volunteers of Illinois  |  641 West Lake St, Suite 200 | Chicago, IL 60661-1308
Phone: 312-857-1582  |  E-mail: