Washtenaw Literacy Partners with Area Businesses

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Agency seeks to expand successful partnership model

National Volunteer Week kicks off April 15 and is a great point for area businesses to consider creating a formal volunteer program for their employees.

Washtenaw Literacy, a non-profit organization founded in 1971 with a goal to end adult illiteracy, is partnering with local businesses to expand its community outreach efforts. Ann Arbor-based information company ProQuest and DTE Energy Resources are the first companies to join forces with the agency in the fight against illiteracy.

“National Volunteer Week kicks off April 15 and is a great point for area businesses to consider creating a formal volunteer program for their employees,” notes Washtenaw Literacy Executive Director Amy Goodman. “Helping adults become literate helps them achieve their life and is a very rewarding volunteer activity and facilitates the economic success of our region.”

ProQuest has supported the agency for several years by offering a variety of marketing services to the agency. “ProQuest offers employees a formal volunteer program, and working with the Washtenaw Literacy team is a fulfilling way for the marketing team to leverage their talents to help the community,” says ProQuest Senior Vice President of Enterprise Marketing and Customer Care, Lynda James-Gilboe.

DTE Energy Resources has created a program to encourage employees to become tutors, helping the agency fulfill its tremendous need for tutors. “Our staff have been able to help with several of Washtenaw Literacy’s programs and have found the experience personally and professionally rewarding” says DTE Energy Resources Vice President, Mark Rigby

During the coming year there will be many opportunities to get involved in the goal to end illiteracy. These events include a variety of training events, Support Literacy Now in May, World in a Basket 2012 in October, and much more. "There are many ways to help…tutoring, financial contributions, committee work, corporate sponsorships, and in-kind support," says Ms. Goodman. "It will take all of this and more to help end adult illiteracy in Washtenaw County."

To explore ways your organization could get involved and call Amy Goodman at 1-734-879-1320 or go to http://www.washtenawliteracy.org.

About Washtenaw Literacy
Washtenaw Literacy’s purpose is straightforward: we help adults change their lives through literacy. Since 1971 our organization has been devoted to helping men and women improve their reading, writing and English- as- a- Second- Language skills.

Our core program is one-on-one tutoring. This is the approach our first volunteer tutors used in 1971. The reason we still use it today is because it works. Over 90% of adults in our one-on-one tutoring program reach one or more of their goals. Part of this success stems from our “designer tutor” approach. We train each of our volunteer tutors to plan lessons according to the learner’s strengths, needs and goals. Adult learners in our program are motivated because they are setting, and meeting, their own standards for success.

This focus on individual goals makes our program unique in the county. Washtenaw Literacy is a critical part of our community’s educational continuum. Someday we hope to have no need for our services. Until then, we’ll support our volunteer tutors as they help low-literate men and women improve their skills and their lives.

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Beth Dempsey