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How to Support Literacy Volunteers

Part 3 of 3

In our previous two posts, Meghen Fitzgibbons, ESOL Program Manager at Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven, talked about Literacy Volunteers, its history, and the wonderful work they do around the country. She introduced us to the students and programs at the New Haven affiliate and all that makes it unique. In this post, Meghen Fitzgibbons talks about ways to support or become involved with Literacy Volunteers, as a tutor or as a volunteer.

AccentAccurate: How do tutors become involved with Literacy Volunteers?

Meghen Fitzgibbons: Tutors may hear about Literacy Volunteers through social media or a website. If someone is looking for a volunteer opportunity, they might find us on websites such as or on Additionally, prior to tutor training sessions, flyers are posted in the community and ads are placed in the newspaper. Our partner agencies help us get the word out as well. We also do outreach at community events. Some tutors hear about us through word of mouth.

AA: Who teaches classes at Literacy Volunteers? Who are the tutors? What’s their background?

MF: Tutors come from all different backgrounds and walks of life. It’s not necessary for tutors to have a background in education or any prior knowledge. For example, tutors may be librarians, college students, psychologists, speech pathologists, carpenters, or physicians, just to name a few. Many retirees, including retired teachers, choose to become volunteer tutors.

AA: What motivates tutors to volunteer?

MF: Many people say they would like to make a difference. Some people may be ambivalent about policy changes as they pertain to refugees and immigrants, and feel tutoring is their way of contributing and making New Haven a welcoming community for all. In addition, volunteers enjoy the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Tutors frequently find their students’ life stories very inspiring.

Once someone expresses an interest in becoming a volunteer tutor, we support them in every way we can. Tutor training is provided before a volunteer begins tutoring, and continuing education workshops are provided to tutors throughout the year. Additionally, we have several different tutoring models and try to match each volunteer with the tutoring model that best fits him or her. For example, some assignments involve planning, while others involve assisting a teacher so that no planning is needed.

Many tutors become very invested in their volunteer assignments, and spend quite a bit of time planning and preparing for each class they teach.

AA: How does Literacy Volunteers get its funding?

MF: Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven receives grants from the State Department of Education, from the City of New Haven, and from the Town of Hamden.

We also hold fundraising events, such as our Annual Scrabble Tournament, held both in New Haven and in Meriden. Sponsorships of the scrabble tournaments by businesses and organizations also help us raise much-needed funds.

We also hold smaller fundraisers such as “Books and Brew,” in which we will sell used books that were previously donated.

People can also designate Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven as a charity with Amazon.

We also rely on donations, and are grateful for any and all donations we receive.

AA: Are there other ways I can help out?

MF: Literacy Volunteers is truly a volunteer organization. We have a very small skeletal staff who are spread very thin. Therefore, we rely upon and welcome volunteers to assist us in a variety of capacities. In addition to our volunteer tutors, volunteer positions may include assisting with reception at the front desk, helping out with our fundraising efforts, and assisting us in managing various social media platforms, to name a few. Serving on our board of directors is also a way of helping our organization.

Donations of goods and services in all amounts can be very helpful. For example, a $100 donation in the form of a gift certificate to a food establishment can help us provide refreshments for an event or for tutor training.

We also receive in-kind donations, which are donations of goods or services. For example, the donation of our office space allows us to apply the funds we would have needed for rent towards programming.

As a volunteer tutor with Literacy Volunteers for over two years, I can attest to how rewarding the experience can be. The commitment and caliber of my fellow tutors are impressive, the students are so appreciative, and Literacy Volunteers staff make sure the program is always running smoothly.

As an accent reduction coach, I am passionate about language and communication, and I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that ensures everyone has access to literacy and English instruction. I hope you’ll consider supporting Literacy Volunteers, too.

If you’re looking for help with accent and pronunciation, AccentAccurate offers a variety of coaching programs to help with accent awareness and modification. Please visit us at to see which of our programs is best suited for you!