To submit your monthly tutor report: Click here
Want to volunteer as an ESL tutor or reading coach? Click here
New volunteer orientation: TBD
All trainings are at the Robinhood Road Family YMCA.
Adult Literacy Students! Do you need a tutor to help you learn English? Do you need a tutor to help you improve your reading skills? Fill out this form and we will contact you!
What Do We Do?
YMCA Literacy works to strengthen our community by training volunteer tutors to instruct adults in a self-paced, 40-hour literacy program. Volunteer tutors serve around 130 adult learners per year in one of two programs: Adult Reading and English as a Second Language. Program brochure coming soon.
After almost three years of tutoring with YMCA Literacy, Soon Ja Nam, a South Korean immigrant and small business owner, passed her citizenship test. Like many residents of Forsyth County, she needed stronger literacy skills to reach her goals. More than 20% of North Carolinians cannot read above a fifth-grade level or speak English well enough to help their children with homework.
The Literacy Initiative was founded in 1990, by a partnership between the United Way of Forsyth County and Leadership Winston-Salem, with funding from the Winston-Salem Foundation. In 1993, the Literacy Initiative began training volunteer tutors to provide direct service to low-level readers in the community. In 1994, the organization absorbed the Forsyth County Literacy Council and the YMCA Literacy Initiative became the focal point of adult literacy coordination in the county. The ESL program was added in 2001 in response to the growth of the Latino community in Forsyth County, but with a mission to serve English language learners of all nationalities.
Today, the program is still grounded in volunteer-based, one-on-one tutoring. In the 2012-13 program year, volunteers contributed over 6000 hours of free instructional hours for adult learners. Most tutors and learners meet twice a week, for a total of around 3 hours, usually in a YMCA tutoring room. The Literacy Initiative has resource rooms conveniently located at the Robinhood Road, Fulton, William G. White, Jr. (Central) and Winston Lake Family YMCA branches. Here, tutors and learners have access to a library of quality books, classroom materials and computers, as well as a quiet space to learn.
On both the Adult Reading and ESL sides of the program, diversity is a hallmark. In Adult Reading, learners come to the program at different stages of life; ages range from early 20s to 70s. Their individual goals vary from obtaining a GED to being able to read to their grandchildren. ESL learners come from all over the world, including countries like China, South Korea, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras. They also come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have diverse goals. Some have advanced degrees in their home countries, some wish to prepare for job interviews, others want to be able to understand their children’s schoolwork. A few learners are preparing for citizenship applications, and some want to fine-tune their English pronunciation.
Each side of the program has its unique challenges, but the Literacy Initiative prepares volunteers with training, appropriate materials and ongoing support, to ensure the best experience for both learner and tutor. Anyone can be a tutor, no prior experience or foreign language skills are required. With patience, a little creativity and a desire to help others reach their goals, you can make a difference.
The need is larger than we are, we have a waiting list of learners across the city that need tutors. With increased volunteer support, we can expand our current programs even further, and pursue new partnerships, in specific areas like family literacy, workforce literacy and computer literacy.
Additional Information/ General Literacy Links
Are you interested in hearing more about YMCA Literacy? Does volunteering at the YMCA interest you? Please get in touch with us!