Greater Norwalk Literacy Volunteers at Norwalk Public Library

Two literacy volunteers sitting at a table
Small group of literacy volunteers sitting at a table
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Our Mission

To teach adults to read, write, speak and understand English so that they may achieve their personal, educational, employment and civic goals.


Literacy Volunteers has had a presence in Norwalk for many years. Literacy Volunteers of Greater Norwalk, as it was formerly called, opened in 1976 at the South Norwalk Library and moved to the Main Library in the early 1980’s. It operated as a separate entity, being funded by Family Services of Woodfield (FSW), a non-profit social services agency. Due to funding issues and a national economy change, FSW was no longer able to support the program. Rather than lose or have an interruption in services, the program was incorporated into the Library’s operation in 2013, thanks to funding from the Norwalk Public Library Board of Trustees. The City of Norwalk is currently funding the program for fiscal year 2014-2015. Because of that funding we were able to hire two, part-time volunteer coordinators, former literacy volunteers, who are highly committed to the program.

Who We Are

Our department is a member of ProLiteracy America, the largest adult literacy membership organization in the country. Monthly, we serve approximately 436 students who hail from over thirty countries. Some of our students are well educated and others have had little access to education. All share the same goal of wanting to improve their English to better their lives and the lives of their families. Many people seek our Literacy Volunteers department almost immediately following their arrival to Fairfield County. With our help, they learn how to best navigate within a society that may differ drastically from the one they left. The tutors enlisted by our department help to ease the students’ transition from their homeland to Connecticut.

What We Do

Literacy Volunteers’ coordinators recruit, train and guide volunteers to help adults improve their English skills. Tutors and students work together for a minimum of two hours a week in small groups. Our tutors offer classes in English as a Foreign Language, Basic Literacy and Citizenship Training free of charge, regardless of immigration status. We also provide supplemental learning opportunities, such as conversation groups, writing groups, and computer assisted instruction using the Rosetta Stone language program. We have approximately 64 volunteers. The majority of our focus is on English Language Learning (ELL). However, we are finding an increased need for training in basic literacy and we are actively looking for volunteers to teach basic literacy and to work with the large number of students on the waiting list. Our dedicated group of volunteer tutors strives to empower students, foster their sense of connectivity to the community, and give them the knowledge-base needed to achieve their goals. Upon registering for the program each student takes an initial assessment. At the end of the year, students are post-tested to objectively measure their progress.

Why We Are Here

The ability to speak, read and write English improves employment opportunities, allows adults to become better advocates for themselves and their families, improves their health and safety, and allows them to become more active participants in our community. Literacy skills are key to reducing poverty, crime, poor health, and human rights abuse. For parents, it is a vital component of increasing the literacy levels of their children.

Become a Volunteer

We are always looking for new tutors to work with our adult students. The tutor/student relationship is the core of the Literacy Volunteers program. Volunteers are asked to meet the following criteria to qualify as a Literacy Volunteer:
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be able to speak and understand English well enough to communicate clearly.
  • Complete an ESOL tutor training workshop.
  • Be able to volunteer for a minimum of one year.
  • Be willing to work with your students at least two hours a week.
  • Be dependable, prompt, interested in helping others, sensitive to different cultures, and respectful of confidentiality.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Literacy Volunteer, contact Judy McCann at 203-899-2780 ext. 15182, or complete our online volunteer application and submit the form. We will then contact you with the date of the next Information Session.

Become a Student

You can learn to speak, read, and write English more fluently with free tutoring from a trained volunteer, depending on tutor availability. To be eligible you must:
  • Be at least 18 years old and not attending high school.
  • Take an assessment test to determine your English language level.
  • Commit to attending class for one year or until goals are achieved.
  • Arrive on time for all scheduled classes and contact the tutor if you cannot come to class.
If you are interested in English classes, contact ESOL Coordinator Debbie Crawford at 203-899-2780 ext. 15181,
to schedule a registration appointment and assessment test.