Welcome to the Virtual Learning Center!
The Kalamazoo Literacy Council’s (KLC) mission is to make Kalamazoo County a fully literate community because we believe #EveryoneNeedsToRead. That means helping 25,495 adults in our community with basic skills that many of us take for granted, such as reading to our children, filling out a job application, or understanding medical information.
We are proud to provide a full range of FREE programs and services with online learning. Our volunteers are trained and equipped for classes and one-on-one and small group tutoring with learners. We are designed around our learners’ goals, so in addition to tutoring, we have options for students who want more self-paced instruction time. We believe in empowering our learners any time, any where, any way so they can reach their full potential.
Laptop Loaning Program
We understand that many people may not have access to a reliable device (smartphones, tablets, laptops) or internet service. To help bridge this digital divide, the KLC has established a Laptop Learning Program, to provide laptops and hot spots to learners, at no cost! We are the ONLY literacy organization with this innovative program – and we are dedicated to continue removing barriers so learning never stops. If you know a learner who has computer access as a barrier, please contact us today. We are here to help!
Adult Tutoring program
The KLC offers FREE literacy tutoring, educational materials, and classes in Writing, Computer Skills, Citizenship, and Situational Math to adults who have been evaluated by the KLC. Tutors lead groups with topics that include Empowerment, Health, Parenting, Financial Literacy, and Work in addition to learning clubs such as the Student Advisory Council, the Page Turners’ Book Club, and the SCRABBLE® Club.
The KLC provides tutor training for qualified volunteers in the Laubach Method and other effective strategies. Currently, the KLC has approximately 250 active tutors assisting more than 560 adults in need of literacy education in the community. Tutors commit to 14-hours of training and a minimum of a year of service.
Obtain a GED
Our ExpressWays 2 Success program is essential for GED-focused learners; it includes the PLATO software which can be accessed from any device with internet service. Learn more about ExpressWays 2 Success.
Get ready for the workforce
Enroll in our Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) class and strengthen your skills to:
- Get a job
- Get a better job
- Get a promotion
Each weekly session features an interactive presentation focused on applying for jobs, writing effective cover letters and resumes, and interview skills. Classes are held Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Learn more about JOBS.
Become a better writer
Join our writing class to improve basic writing skills such as sentence structure, vocabulary, and grammar. With this class, learners will soon master the necessary skills to write a short story about themselves as well as the knowledge to write a well rounded essay.
New session begins Friday, January 15th, 10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
So many of us are pledging to live healthier lifestyles. For adults with low literacy skills, that often means confusion and frustration with reading food labels, preparing healthier recipes, or understanding medical instructions.
In our free, online Health Literacy class, students will learn about goal setting, healthy cooking, easy exercises, and how to advocate for their and their family’s health.
Stay at home orders means that the need for parent literacy services is greater than ever. Parents are always considered the “first teachers” of their children, and in many cases right now, they are the only teachers. Our virtual Parent Literacy Together class helps our learners with children become more confident in their literacy skills, with free books, fun activities, and more. Join today!
English as a second language (ESL)
Through our ESL of Southwest Michigan program, we serve English language learners from all over the globe! 17 countries and counting. Trained tutors are ready to help students develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. We also encourage social bonds by hosting online group activities. Each class follows a curriculum based on Step Forward books which conform to the standards of the CASAS standardized tests.
Become a literacy advocate
Literacy Advocate Orientations
We offer 90-minute orientations for organizations and businesses to:
- Raise awareness about the state of adult illiteracy in Kalamazoo County.
- Provide information on how to identify and approach adults who may not know how to read or may read at a low level.
- Provide information on how to refer adults to free tutoring services that will improve their literacy skills.
- Provide information on how the #EveryoneNeedsToRead Adult Literacy Initiative is reaching the 25,000 struggling adult readers in Kalamazoo County and how to get involved in the effort.
Literacy Advocate Orientations may be scheduled by filling out the contact form or calling the administrative office at (269) 382-0490 ext. 222. The orientations may be customized to be included as professional development or to help organizations improve their “literacy transactions” and become more effective literacy advocates.
The KLC partners with organizations and businesses to ensure brochures, pamphlets, forms and other documents are more accessible to readers of all levels. This service entails a full review of the original document with suggestions that bring the reading level to as near 6th grade or below without changing document’s meaning. This service is provided on a sliding scale. Contact the administrative office at (269) 382-0490 ext. 222 for more details.
Refer A Student
How to approach a potential student
Referring a student to the KLC is simple. If you know someone who needs help with reading, writing or spelling, contact us.
The program staff will schedule an assessment for the prospective student to determine his or her reading level. After the assessment, the student will be matched with a trained tutor who will work one-on-one with the student to improve his/her literacy skills. Sessions will be held in a public place that is convenient for the student.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be able to speak and understand English
- Have access to transportation – private or public
Recognizing and Approaching a Non-Reader
Many adult non-readers never reveal their circumstance, even to their immediate family, and hiding the truth becomes an additional burden. They avoid situations that require reading and have developed an arsenal of behaviors that conceal their inability to read.
The non-reader is difficult to identify. The following suggestions may help identify and support the non-reader.
Most non-readers will not tell you that they cannot read or write. Sometimes behaviors are affected by an angry tone to discourage further interaction with you. This is normal defensive behavior. Please remember that all of us want to avoid embarrassing situations.
Here are some common behaviors of non-readers:
- Gives excuses for not reading.
- “I forgot my glasses. Could you read this for me?”
- “I have bad arthritis in my hand. Could you write this for me?”
- “I can’t understand this form. Would you explain it to me?”
- “I don’t have time to do this right now. I’ll take it home and bring it back later.”
- Takes a long time or appears confused, angry, or agitated when given something to read or write.
- “Why do I have to fill this out? I have better things to do.”
- “I just gave this information. Why do I have to do it again?”
- Misses appointments or gets dates and times mixed up.
- May sign a form after pretending to read it. Don’t be fooled. Generally, non-readers can sign their name.
If you suspect that someone is having trouble reading, be very sensitive to the person’s self-esteem. With empathy and discretion, your specific approach will differ with each person.
Here are some suggestions:
- Quietly ask to speak with the person.
- Go to a private area.
- Using a gentle tone, tell the person that you have noticed difficulties in (specific area).
- Ask if that is correct and if the person can identify the problem. It may be that the person simply needs glasses.
- Whatever the problem, assure the person that you are there to help.
Tell the person about the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, that our services are free and confidential, and that adult tutors will work with them on a one-on-one basis in public places, such as the library.