Literacy Florida!

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Volunteers for Adult Literacy in Florida

As of August 2008 Literacy Florida! Inc., was renamed Volunteers for Adult Literacy in Florida. VALF provides grants, training, and technical support for adult and family literacy programs using trained volunteers.

Some 74 million adults in the United States lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. Statistics on Florida can be found at the Florida Literacy Coalition. [1]

VALF provides information and services to Florida literacy volunteers and providers in program management, adult learner persistence, communications and networking, technical assistance and training, public affairs, advocacy, and student leadership. Starting in 2008, the organization started a small grant program for members.

The organization is a non-profit association serving smaller community-based groups and those sponsored by agencies utilizing volunteers across the state. VALF is a member of ProLiteracy Worldwide. Agencies running volunteer literacy programs include libraries, churches, school systems, and colleges. Civic clubs such as Altrusa have a history of supporting literacy and some of clubs have helped adult literacy programs get started.

Florida's volunteer literacy programs reach adults who read at the lowest reading level and those needing help learning English. Programs are administered through public libraries such as the Jacksonville Public Library (Florida) or by independent nonprofit groups.

Potential volunteers do not need to have teaching experience. Those who tutor conversational English do not need to know a foreign language.

Most programs require volunteers to attend a tutor training workshop on basic reading workshop or on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to learn how to tutor. Some programs provide combined workshop. Each program develops their own criteria for participation, but tutors are often required to be 18 years old and have a high school diploma. Most must attend an initial training and participate in in-service opportunities and agree to tutor weekly for six months to a year. Well organized programs provide ongoing support for tutors and students.

Programs also use volunteers as tutor trainers, in administrative functions and for tutor and student support.

LFva holds their annual meeting at the Florida Literacy Conference which is sponsored by the Florida Literacy Coalition [2] in the spring.