Volunteer Literacy

We are part of the Adult Basic Skills Department at CCC. ABS runs the GED® and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in Astoria, Seaside, and Clatskanie.

Clatsop Community College is in Astoria at 1717 Lexington Avenue. The Volunteer Literacy Tutor Program office is located in the old Student Services Center (SSC), Southeast corner suite. Click here to find the Lexington Campus.

What Services Do We Provide?

We’re here to help local residents gain or improve basic literacy skills. Many of our students are unable to enroll in regular classes because of long work hours, or because they lack transportation and childcare. We find and train volunteers who meet with and instruct adults in English as a Second Language, reading, writing and math.

Trainings are held regularly each term, and tutor orientations are provided on an ongoing, individual basis. We assess all students and provide free study materials. Most volunteers commit to 1-2 hours a week with their student.

Many tutors now work with Spanish-speakers. Some tutors work with native English speakers who want to obtain a GED or upgrade their reading, writing and math skills. We also help students study for the citizenship exam. Prior teaching experience or knowledge of a language other than English is not needed. Patience and a commitment to the student are the primary qualities of good literacy tutors. The tutor also must be able to relate to the learner as a peer, not as teacher and student.

U.S. Citizenship Workshop

Call for an Appointment

Are you eligible to become a US citizen?  Have you met the residency requirements?  Do you want to learn about the application process?  The US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates that there are as many as 100,000 Oregon residents who are eligible to apply for citizenship.  Come in to learn how to fill out the application, what the costs are, and review study materials needed to pass the English and civics exams.  Learn how long the process takes and about conducting a successful interview.  Tutors are available to help applicants with the English requirements.  Call  (503) 338-2557 or email epurcell@clatsopcc.edu (link sends e-mail) to make an appointment.

Literacy Matters

  • 36 million adults in the United States cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level.
  • Low literacy costs the US economy an estimated $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, from crime, and loss of tax revenue.
  • 43% of the people with the lowest levels of literacy live in poverty.
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being in the lowest reading levels themselves.
  • 2 million immigrants come to the US every year, and about 50% of them lack a high school education and proficient English skills.
  • 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
  • $232 billion per year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy skills. 
  • 22% of adult Oregonians do not have high enough literacy skills to meet the demands of today’s changing workforce.
  • 11% of Oregon’s population 18 years and older lacks a  high school diploma or GED.

Prospective volunteers often say “I’m not a trained teacher.” “I don’t speak Spanish.” “I can’t explain grammar rules!” Our program is designed so that you don’t have to be an education or language expert. The best literacy tutors are thoughtful listeners and have a curiosity about how others learn and live. Adult learners and their tutors are always partners, not unequal participants, in the learning process. 

Prospective volunteers should call for an appointment to meet the coordinator, receive a short overview of the program, pass a background check and fill out the Volunteer Service Agreement (.pdf, 57 KB). Read the Volunteer Tutor Handbook (.pdf, 788 KB) to see if our program sounds like a good fit for you. Tutors are expected to attend at least 2 two-hour trainings each year.

Volunteering as a literacy tutor is a rewarding activity that helps individuals and contributes to the well-being of our community. If you would like to learn more about our programs, become a volunteer, or direct someone to us who might benefit from our services, please call or email Eileen Purcell @ (503) 338-2557.

For Tutors:

Volunteer Tutor Handbook (.pdf, 329KB)
Supervisor Volunteer Memo (.pdf, 44KB)
Volunteer Service Agreement (.pdf, 14KB)
Student Sign-In Sheet (.pdf, 50KB)
Registration Form (.pdf, 220KB)

For Students:

Student Handbook Spanish (.pdf, 21KB)
Student Handbook English (.pdf, 15KB)

Send completed forms to:
Volunteer Literacy
Clatsop Community College
1651 Lexington Ave.
Astoria, OR 97103