Discover what the Y-Literacy program does in our community!
YMCA Literacy works to strengthen our community by training volunteer tutors to instruct adults in an individualized, 40+ hour literacy program. Volunteer tutors and paid instructors serve around 200 adult learners per year in one of two programs: Adult Reading and English as a Second Language.
More than 20% of North Carolinians cannot read above a fifth-grade level or speak English well enough to help their children with homework. Both of these can also make finding meaningful employment difficult to attain.
For our volunteers: submit your monthly tutor report here.
Want to volunteer as an ESL tutor or reading coach? Click here.
Volunteer Orientation and Training
Tutor training sessions are required for all new volunteer tutors, including Reading tutors and ESL tutors. However, because we often have a waiting list of students who need a tutor, we also offer one-on-one tutor training so that you may get started more quickly. We also offer tutor gatherings on the first Friday of every month; these gatherings provide training, enrichment, and idea/knowledge sharing among staff and volunteers.
After the initial training we will match you with an adult student, provide materials, and help you get started. We ask that you attend at least two more workshops or tutor sharing events during your first year of tutoring. They will be offered on a variety of more specific topics.
Each side of the program has its unique challenges, but YMCA Literacy 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 often have a waiting list of learners across the city that need tutors. With increased volunteer support and donations, we can expand our current programs even further, and pursue new partnerships, in specific areas like family literacy, workforce literacy, and computer literacy.
The Literacy Initiative was founded in 1990, by a partnership between the United Way of Forsyth 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 2019, we served 330 adult learners through our one-on-one tutoring, small groups, and ESL classes. Each year, our volunteers contribute over 4,000 hours of free instruction for adult learners. Most tutors and learners meet twice a week, for a total of three hours, usually in a YMCA tutoring room. YMCA Literacy has resource rooms conveniently located at the Robinhood Road Family YMCA. 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 Venezuela, South Korea, Syria, Russia, Mexico, Burma, 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, and 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.