Do you have what it takes

to be a Literacy Volunteer Tutor???

Are you at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma, and are able to commit to at least 2 hours a week for one year? If so, then we can provide you with the skills needed to become a Literacy Volunteer Tutor!


Inter-generational illiteracy, in which an entire family or large portions of it may be functionally illiterate, is a particular focus for us. Studies have shown that the single greatest predictor of a child’s ability to read is their parent’s ability to read. We break this cycle of illiteracy in Erie & Niagara  Counties by bringing free literacy programs to children and their parents and grandparents. We achieve this by recruiting and training dedicated volunteers, developing partnerships with other agencies and adapting programs to address emerging community needs.

As a Literacy Volunteer Tutor, your role is one-to-one tutoring with an enrolled learner for at least two (2) hours per week,  for at least one (1) year. Tutors are welcome and encouraged to meet with their learner for longer than the minimum 2 hours per week, and are welcome to continue beyond a year with their student. We find consistent instruction from a familiar person is the way our learners learn best! If they choose, tutors are welcome to teach multiple learners and teach more than one category of learners.


We provide free service to two major categories of learners, and training for Literacy Volunteer Tutors in each program:

1. English Language Learner (ELL) adults: These learners, ages 18 and up, are non-native English speakers. Our ELL population represents many different countries including Burma, South Korea, Japan, China, Liberia, Sudan, Somalia, Iran and Iraq. Depending on your student, literacy needs can vary from basic reading and writing, to cultural issues, to the more broad, pronunciation, intonation and rhythm.

2. Basic Literacy (BL) adults: These learners, ages 18 and up, who are in need of improving their reading and writing skills. It is impossible to overstate that basic literacy learners are highly diverse in their abilities, goals and needs. Some are taking GED classes and need extra support in their studies, while others may not know the alphabet. Typically, our students are reading between a first and fifth grade reading level. To give you an idea, a person with a fifth grade reading level can understand a simple sentence and sign their name, but they cannot comprehend nutritional labels, a job application, legal text, or locate an intersection on a map. Our learners sometimes have a specific life goal such as finding, retaining, or improving employment, studying for a driver’s license, helping a child to read, or reading labels on prescription medicine.


For more than 50 years, Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara has found that bridging cultures often creates unique, interesting relationships. Some of our most wonderful, productive, tutor/learner pairs have come out of the cross-cultural matches and we encourage tutors to seek diverse, cross-cultural matches. If you prefer to work with a learner of a particular gender or ethnicity please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate.

Click to read about the requirements and benefits of tutoring
Click to learn the steps to becoming a volunteer