Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White recently awarded over $5.6 million in adult literacy grants to help adult students develop and enhance their reading, math, writing and English-language skills.

“An estimated two million Illinois residents need adult literacy and/or English-language instruction,” White said. “I am pleased to provide funding for 108 local literacy projects that will allow adult students to help them achieve their utmost potential in the upcoming year. It has been an honor serving as Secretary of State and State Librarian for the last 24 years, helping to ensure that every citizen of this state has access to quality literacy programs.”

Locally, Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon received $66,467 for their Project VITAL program. Black Hawk College in East Moline received $44,000 for their adult volunteer literacy program. The Galesburg Regional Office of Education #33 received $50,000 for their family literacy program. The Monmouth Regional Office of Education #33 received $50,000 for the Warren County Family Literacy Program, $10,888 for the Smithfield & ROE #33 ESL Program Workplace Skills Enhancement Program and $47,849 for their adult volunteer literacy program.

Statewide, 10,589 students are served by adult literacy programs and 4,686 volunteer tutors provide training for students to gain skills that place them on the path to lifelong learning. Adult literacy projects help Illinois adults who read below the ninth-grade level or speak English at a beginning level improve their reading, writing, math or use of English as a new language.

The Adult Literacy Program is managed by the Secretary of State’s Illinois State Library Literacy Office and awards grants in three categories:

  • Adult Volunteer Literacy offers training for volunteers who tutor adults aged 17 and older in basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Participating literacy providers can include libraries, volunteer tutoring organizations, community-based organizations, community colleges, regional offices of education, individual and public schools, preschool programs, school districts, domestic-violence shelters and correctional facilities.
  • Penny Severns Family Literacy ― provides educational services to parents and children to boost basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Programs must work with an adult literacy provider, a child-at-risk agency and a public library.
  • Workplace Skills Enhancement ― provides onsite instructional services to employees of participating Illinois businesses, allowing them to enhance their basic reading, writing or language skills and increase their chances for promotion. Eligible employees must read at or below the ninth-grade level. Grantees must match the grant award and may also provide instructional services to prospective employees. The fiscal agent and submitting agency may be either the educational partner or the business partner.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer tutor should call or text the Illinois Adult Education Hotline at 800-321-9511.