Tutors, Trainings, and Big Thanks!

February 2016 Newsletter

The Literacyworks Center Welcomes Talented Tutors

Part of the goal of The Literacyworks Center is to provide tutors to our adult students to help with navigating the often complex world of college classwork. Many of our low-literacy students speak English as their second language, and the preparation it takes to succeed in their courses can require extra time and guidance.

Our tutors are all volunteers, and come to The Center with a variety of professional and personal experience. In our free tutor training program, they get a sense of who adults with low literacy skills are, how they might learn best, and what they want to learn about or be able to do. Tutors learn to use effective, research-based tutoring strategies to help adult students improve their reading and writing skills, and allow them to persevere and over come obstacles to learning which may have derailed them in the past. 

If you are interested in joining our team of tutors in The Center, please call Center Director Chris Schultz at (707) 981-8086.

The Literacyworks Center Tutor Training Workshop a Success!

The first tutor training workshop was held Friday, January 29th at Santa Rosa Junior College, Petaluma Campus. The workshop was led by Kathy St. John and Amy Prevendel who have 20+ years of adult education professional development training. As part of the training, tutors learned about the type of students enrolled in The Literacyworks Center, about tutoring materials and online learning activities, LINCS resources, and other free resources offered to adult literacy tutors. Also in attendance were Sonoma County Library Literacy Tutors.

We received a lot of positive feedback from the attendees on the content of the training and expertise of Kathy and Amy. We look forward to presenting more trainings in the future. 

Generous New Donations Received 

We're excited to share that Literacyworks has received new grants from the Marin Community Foundation and Codding Foundation. These generous organizations are excited to come on board supporting The Literacyworks Center in bringing educational opportunity to low-literacy adults in Sonoma and Marin counties.

We've also received another generous donation from The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Seven adult students from Graton are enrolled at The Center and taking courses at Santa Rosa Junior College. We continue to be grateful for their support.

Free Workshop for Adult Educators Well Attended 

Seventy educators from four counties attended a special workshop sponsored by theSonoma County Adult Education Consortium on January 22nd. The day-long training was organized in part by Literacyworks Executive Director Paul Heavenridge and led by two educators from Penn State College of Education: KayLinn Hamilton, a workforce development specialist, and Dr Blaire Willson Toso, a research associate and educator in ESL and family literacy. 

The topic of one workshop was new Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) regulations relating to AE program development. Congress passed the WIOA to "help job seekers and workers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and match employers with skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy." 

Attendees were also able to create integrated work-based lessons for ESL and Basic Skills for use in the classroom.

"The educators in attendance will be able to take these lessons straight back to their classrooms and implement them immediately," enthused Paul Heavenridge. 

Future trainings in these topics are in the works. For information go to the Sonoma County Adult Education website.

Please get involved in the important job of giving basic education skills to the adults of Sonoma and Marin counties by clicking the button below!

Why Read? Reason #8. America, We Have a Literacy Problem.

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Yes, we have a serious literacy problem and it'll get worse if we don't help our citizens become literate.

Our economy, our society, our very democracy depends on an educated workforce. Basic skills are critical to the prosperity and wellbeing of individuals and are key drivers of economic growth and societal advancement. But today, adults in the U.S. score well below the international average in the foundational skills considered most critical for our global competitiveness and economic strength: math, reading and problem-solving. A 2013 study by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies discovered that 1 in 6 adults have low literacy skills and nearly one-third have weak numeracy and problem solving skills.

Employers often struggle to fill jobs requiring basic skills while literacy funding is at an all-time low. In California, more than half of all adults are not proficient readers and 6,151,072 (almost 1 in 5) have not earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. The costs to society are immense. That’s the bad news.

What’s the good news? Becoming literate for life is not costly and the results are tangible.

Take Enrique, an adult with low literacy skills who was living in the Bay Area with few prospects to find a well-paying job to support his family. Then he stumbled upon a library literacy program that gave him the fundamentals to increase his workplace skills, which helped him to secure a job with a national airline. “When you go into a literacy program, you come out reading. You come out literate. And you never go back,” he says.

Enrique was lucky. The number of out-of-school adults needing help in Sonoma County is considerable. But our adult education services and programs are grossly underfunded and can’t hope to serve everyone in need. Every adult school program in the county, with the exception of Petaluma, has closed in recent years. Library literacy programs can’t meet the demand and Santa Rosa Junior College and other non-profits are trying to fill the gap but waiting lists are long.

If we do nothing, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said, "No matter how hard they work, these adults will be stuck, unable to support their families and contribute fully to our country."

Why should you care? Because we all benefit from an educated society.

On an economic level, the return on investment is huge. A literate workforce attracts more business resulting in higher salaries, enhanced job security, greater productivity, increased consumer spending and tax revenues, reduced correctional costs, and a decreased drain on social services. Literacy is the most basic employable skill, the essential element of economic development and living-wage jobs.

On a personal level, parents are better able to support their children’s education and nurture healthier citizens. When adults gain the power to read and write it is nothing short of transformational – resulting in healthier and, yes, happier communities.

To help address the need in Sonoma, we are launching The Literacyworks Center to provide more basic and workplace skills programs. The Center, partnering with the Santa Rosa Junior College on its Petaluma Campus, will work with underserved basic skills learners to address the educational and logistical issues they must manage to stay in school and succeed in work. The Center will act as a liaison between education programs and monitor each learner’s progress, helping them to complete their educational goals.

How can you help?

Help fund a hero! Support the new Literacyworks Center at SRJC by giving a donation to help administer The Center. Go to Literacyworks.org and click the “Donate” button.

Volunteer! Our local libraries and literacy programs need more tutors.


This Op-Ed appeared in the Press Democrat on November 2, 2014. Written by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Paul Heavenridge, it was modified for this blog. Lynn Woolsey is a retired member of the U.S. House of Representatives where she sat on Education and Labor Committees during her 20-year tenure. Paul Heavenridge is Executive Director of Literacyworks. To find out more about the Literacyworks Center, visit Literacyworkscenter.org


As I was waiting in line for lunch one day the Zen Buddhist in front of me said to the hotdog vendor: "Make me one with everything."

Then woman standing next to me said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

Join Our Read Out Campaign!

Use the hashtag #ReadOut to upload your video to YouTube, or stream something with Periscope and let us know via email at readout@literacyworks.org, Tweet us at @Litworksorg, and “like” us on Facebook. Learn more at Literacyworks.org.