The program provides free instruction in speaking, reading, and writing English to residents of Santa Cruz County. It also offers small classes and one-on-one preparation for the GED tests, including tutoring in social studies, science, and math. Volunteer tutors are trained and matched with an adult student who has a strong desire to learn English.
Since the inception of the program in 1967, over 11,000 individuals have received literacy education from trained volunteer tutors.
“Our tutors help students achieve success in their daily lives and increase their participation in the community. Many students come to us because they want to be able to talk with their child’s teacher or talk to their doctor about health care concerns. Others struggle to gain employment or want to further their education”, states Literacy Program Director Genie Dee.
“Since 61% of our students have children in their home, this program provides the building blocks needed to change lives for generations to come. Research indicates that parental reading level is the most highly correlated predictor of a student’s success or failure in school”, continues Dee.
Volunteer tutors make a one-year commitment to tutoring but many of the volunteers have been with the program for years.
“Nearly 40 tutors have volunteered for five years or more. We are fortunate that so many of our volunteers have become such passionate advocates of the program, but as the demand for our services continues to grow we are always looking for new volunteers to pitch in”, states Dee.
With a cadre of 236 tutors who are currently serving 309 students, the program still has a waiting list of 96 students seeking literacy services.
“Having done no student recruitment, everyday our phones ring with new individuals seeking our services. Our goal is to never turn anyone away, as we are well aware of both the great need and the life changing impact of literacy education”, states Dee.
Community surveys indicated that approximately 34,359 individuals are in need of literacy training in Santa Cruz County.
“Everyday our tutors make crucial gains in stemming the tide of illiteracy in Santa Cruz County. In the last year, 79% of our students reported that they had received, retained or had been promoted at work as a result of their work with volunteer tutors”, states Dee.
Individuals who are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer tutor to a motivated adult English Language learner are invited to attend a free one-hour orientation.
No foreign language or teaching experience is required, as the program provides extensive training for teaching English and skills for working with English-language learners.
Upcoming New Tutor Orientation Dates:
Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, 1740 17th Avenue:
Monday, Feb. 2nd, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 7th, 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 6 p.m.
Watsonville Volunteer Center, 12 Carr Street:
Saturday, Feb. 28th, 10 a.m.
Photo 1: Tutor MIchele Garns and Iris Cerritos
Photo 2: Tutor Shahar Zimmerman and Rosie Diaz.
Photo 1: Lauren DeSmidt and Barbara Brett attendees of our training in Sept 2014
Photo 2: Tutor and student Patricia Wright and Vilma Parra