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Volunteers ‘desperately’ needed as Adult Literacy Center celebrates its 40th year

June 3, 2016

More Greater Des Moines area adults are seeking assistance in achieving basic literacy skills. But at Drake University's Adult Literacy Center, which is celebrating its 40th year in operation, demand for services is outpacing the supply of volunteers who are available to tutor participants in reading, writing, and speaking.

“As word gets out, more and more people are learning about our services,” said Anne Murr, coordinator of the Adult Literacy Center. “We desperately need volunteers who are eager to positively impact the lives of these students." 

The Center has worked with more than 140 adults this year, including 25 individuals who are on a waiting list. That represents a 21 percent increase in demand over last year. Meanwhile, there are currently about 70 tutors who are available to teach.

The need for tutors prompted the Adult Literacy Center, which is celebrating its 40th year in operation, to schedule an extra set of training sessions for prospective volunteers. Tutor training will be held Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, at the Drake University School of Education, 3206 University Ave. 

Volunteers learn about characteristics of adults who lack literacy skills, the potential causes for adult illiteracy, and skills for delivering multisensory reading instruction. Attendance at both sessions is required; the session on June 17 is from 5–8 p.m., and the session on June 18 is from 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

The adults enrolled are mainly English speakers who attended school through at least 10th grade, but were unable to learn to read through traditional instruction. Reading skills range from pre-reading to approximately fourth grade. Students are eager to learn so they can improve their job, school, and home responsibilities.

One student, a 31-year-old father of two, summed it up well:

"Learning to read, it's a beautiful thing," he said. 

Registration is required and can be completed by contacting Anne Murr at or 515-271-3982.

About the Adult Literacy Center

The goal of the Adult Literacy Center is to improve literacy, resulting in enhanced self-esteem, daily living, and life-long learning. Utilizing volunteers, the DUALC improves the quality of adults' lives by helping them learn to read, write and comprehend.The Adult Literacy Center has been part of the Drake University School of Education since 1976. The Center is staffed by volunteers from the Drake and greater Des Moines communities who are dedicated to literacy and community outreach.