Literacy Action of Central Arkansas teaches adults and families reading and English language skills.
Approximately 16% of adults in our region struggle with basic reading, writing, and math skills. These individuals have difficulty filling out a job application, understanding a prescription label, or reading a bedtime story to their children. Adult literacy is a factor in almost every socioeconomic issue, including workforce development, healthcare, parenting, and poverty. To address these issues effectively, we must invest in educating adults with low literacy.
Literacy Action has worked hard since 1986 to teach literacy skills to struggling readers in the central Arkansas area. We have offices in Little Rock and Conway and also serve serve students from Saline County. In 2019, Literacy Action served nearly 600 adult students, delivering close to 11,000 hours of instruction. Learning to read or speak English enables our students to get family-supporting jobs, have better access to health information, and teach their children the value of literacy. We believe in acknowledging and advocating for the important role adults play in fostering their children’s basic literacy skills and attitudes toward learning. Literacy Action provides a crucial service that benefits the entire community and helps break the cycle of inter-generational illiteracy and poverty. All services are free of charge.
Literacy Action uses on a one-on-one tutoring model for adult basic literacy (ABL) instruction and a group conversation model for English as a second language (ESL) instruction to improve adult literacy levels. In the past two years we have partnered with over 20 local community partner organizations (LCPOs) to reach even more adults and families in our area who need literacy services.
In the early 1970s, Elizabeth Galloway met Dr. Frank Laubach and became inspired by his “Each One, Teach One” philosophy. This philosophy is based on one simple fact: If you can read, you can teach another person to read. Galloway’s interest in the Laubach method motivated her to train literacy tutors throughout Arkansas so that they would have the skills they needed to help an adult learn to read. Galloway’s early efforts against the problem of adult illiteracy in Arkansas prepared a group of volunteers in Little Rock to work together to try to reach the estimated 23,000 adults in Pulaski County who could not read above an 8th grade reading level.
In December 1986, volunteers from the same group formed Literacy Action of Central Arkansas. The organization was given office space at First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, but their office equipment was limited: two typewriters, two adding machines, two calculators and $400 worth of books and curriculum. While its resources were meager, Literacy Action did have one major asset: a strong community of volunteers who were dedicated to fighting adult illiteracy in central Arkansas.
Within the first year of its incorporation, Literacy Action trained over 80 volunteer tutors and was working with more than 50 students in the greater Little Rock community. The organization also secured the assistance of two VISTA volunteers who became the first program coordinator and tutor/student coordinator. Literacy Action continued to grow throughout the years, training more volunteer tutors and changing the lives of adults by helping them get the literacy skills they needed to secure employment, understand prescription labels, or read bedtime stories to their children.
In the early 1990s, the organization discovered a growing need to offer English as a second language (ESL) classes and tutoring to help the immigrant population that was increasing in central Arkansas. In response, Literacy Action began to train its tutors to work specifically with the ESL population. By offering one-on-one tutoring and classes, nonnative adults could learn and improve their English so that they could gain the skills and confidence they needed to integrate more wholly into the community.
In 2010, the Faulkner County Literacy Council merged with Literacy Action. With an additional location in Conway, Literacy Action now has even more opportunities to reach more adults who struggle with basic literacy and English skills in central Arkansas.
Today, an estimated 10% of adults in central Arkansas struggle with basic reading and writing skills. Literacy Action continues to meet the needs of adult learners by using highly motivated and dedicated volunteer tutors who deliver thousands of hours of instruction each year. Literacy Action has also partnered with more than 20 local community organizations to create literacy programs for their constituents. These partnerships have given Literacy Action the opportunities and resources to reach even more adults who need our services.
Literacy Action’s services are all offered free of charge and embrace the belief that socioeconomic issues—parenting, healthcare, workforce development, and poverty—can be improved if we increase the literacy levels of adults in central Arkansas.