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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education, Job Training, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: The mission of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) is to teach adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English so they can access employment and educational opportunities and more fully and equitably participate in the community.

Results: LCNV serves over 1,500 adults per year, who hail from 95 countries, speak 58 different languages, and support over 1,600 dependent children. Classes are held in locations around the region, in partnership with organizations like DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons, Fairfax County, Centreville Immigration Forum, Korean Community Service Center, Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center, Alexandria City Public Schools, and many more. LCNV is Virginia's largest and oldest nonprofit literacy organization, recognized through many awards including its selection in the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington as one of the region’s best community-based charities, and its inclusion as Parade magazine’s outstanding charity for Virginia. Established in 1962 by a grassroots group of volunteers, LCNV has served over 50,000 students in 57 years. This past year, 15 staff members worked with more than 520 trained volunteers who gave over 20,000 hours of service.

Target demographics: Adult English language learners

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1500 learners

Geographic areas served: Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Programs: Beginning-Level English Classes, Family Literacy Classes, and Workforce Development Training

Community Stories

23 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

in 2019, as the Human Resources Manager for Jose Andres' Think Food Group Restaurant company in Washington, DC, I was excited about the possibility of offering language classes to all of our employees. When I met two of the NVLC leaders, Ruba and Roopal for the first time in person, I knew that TFG's decision to move forward just had to happen. Their care, empathy and drive to help people on all levels of language skills was the first thing I recognized. The partnership that came about and the commitment from the NVLC team was above and beyond. We worked to develop a company (TFG) specific, hospitality/restaurant driven language course that fit the needs of our employees with much preparation and devotion to the mission of providing language skills to better their future.They worked within our timeline and budget and made it happen! We had over 12 people graduate from two different classes who are now using the language skills they learned each day in their personal and professional life.
If you are are a restaurant or hospitality company and want to offer your staff- real world, technical, hospitality specific, hands on language skills supported by a team of amazing people- I highly recommend the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. (Love them!)

Jane Selinger M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

J. Michaels
I've been a volunteer for four years with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, first as an aide and then an instructor. The adults we teach are so appreciative of the opportunity to improve their English and very grateful for volunteers' time and commitment. I've seen students blossom as they become more comfortable speaking, reading and writing. My favorite part about teaching is hearing students talk with each other and compare notes on how things are done in different parts of the world. And for volunteers, LCNV is an outstanding organization offering many opportunities for training and support. I knew nothing about Zoom and breakout rooms before March and the pandemic. But after a number of online sessions for instructors, now I'm feeling confident talking students through the process how to connect and how to continue learning. And it's been great to develop a real sense of community with our students and see how acquiring new language skills changes their lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I believe our adult students reflect the best of what’s going on these days at LCNV.
In the Before Covid Times, I worked as a teaching aide with service industry employed Latinx adults who consistently rose to the task of learning English with a resiliency and a can-do spirit that can best be described as the classic American way. Expectations for the course had been set before them clearly with a great deal of encouragement on the part of the LCNV staff and lead teachers. And for two hours on two days each week, their job was learning to speak better English in the workplace. And so the dedicated students simply kept showing up… to do their jobs.
Now, if I had to choose any single word in our ever-growing vocabulary list to describe this group of committed students, that word would be Professionalism. First we defined it, next we role-played it, and then we demanded it from each other, as we demonstrated how and when to use it in the workplace, in our communities, and even in our private lives as caring family members. We all learned from each other the deeper meanings behind words such as Empathy, Accountability, Promptness, Integrity, Politeness, Reliability, and Teamwork. I came across several lifelong learners in these classes. A student in his mid-50s once told me that everything --every concept, every new word he learned in this class-- he took home to teach his son. And these adult students saw learning English as a two-way street, teaching me how to listen closely for the spelling differences in our two languages, and to recognize and clarify the crucial differences in something as simple as the vowel sounds so we could all communicate better. With each class I witnessed a mutual respect between these adult students and their teachers that spoke to the better part of humanity from either side of the desk.
Flexibility is also a strong suit of LCNV’s curriculum. Once Covid sent us online into ZOOM classes, LCNV gathered its teaching staff and in short order provided us with the workshops needed to harness this new teaching style for various populations and cultures in the Northern Virginia area.
I am now a teaching aide for Afghan women refugees. These are
primarily women from a war-torn country who are utterly committed to achieving better outcomes for their children and communities. Their educational backgrounds range from professional secondary degrees to first-time classroom experiences. Yet all are focused on the same goal: to learn to read, write, speak and understand English to improve their lives and the lives of those they love.
I have seen it firsthand that LCNV is profoundly committed to helping make these dreams a reality.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so glad that a friend suggested LCNV to me when I was looking to do some volunteer work. I have been a teaching aide for 3 years. Helping immigrants who are working hard to integrate into their communities and country is very rewarding. The hard working students and their stories are inspiring and humbling. My interactions with the students are a good reminder to me of the many things I take for granted every day. I've also enjoyed working with the terrific teachers and other aides. Finally, the staff makes volunteering very easy and works hard to accommodate the volunteers' schedules. I highly recommend volunteering with this impressive organization!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with LCNV as an assistant teacher two years ago, and it has proven to be one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself. LCNV is a warm and inviting place to work with students from all over the world who have a thirst to learn how to communicate in the English language. I'm not sure who I'm more fond of - the teachers or the students! I've worked with the same teacher so far and have so enjoyed the enthusiastic learning environment she creates in her classroom. It's also been a great joy to witness the energy and motivation of the students. They are so appreciative of all that LCNV offers them. It's more than a school; it's a haven where students can improve their English language skills in an environment that respects and appreciates their cultures and their traditions. I've been amazed at the progress these students make in a short period of time. I attribute that swift progress to a combination of things: proper class placement, skillful teaching, and student commitment. It's a winning combination! I'm very grateful to LCNV for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a rewarding endeavor. I hope to continue volunteering for many years to come - Inshallah!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’m going to tell you the story about two parents. I’m one of them. I have two children that are now home from school. I get emails from their teachers, we Facetime with them, print out worksheets, and plan activities all to help my two kids learn and grow. My goal isn’t unique. We all try to do the best for our family. Many of us who have children want what’s best for them.

Inequity, however, is real and it impacts those around us. Imagine the struggle of those parents that aren’t able to communicate with their kids’ school, or they can’t understand or answer questions about their kids online homework. 50% of elementary school students in our area live in a home where English is not the main language spoken.

But what makes me optimistic is recognizing the work that LCNV has been doing for the last 58 years and how it is impactful today. The other parent in my story is Norma. She and 100s of other parents have participated in the Family Learning Program at LCNV which emphasizes the needs of parents with children in school to help develop their English to reinforce what their children are being taught, communicate with their teachers, and help with learning in the home. 90% of those that attend the Family Learning Program reported an increased involvement in their children's education. Which is more important now than ever. And I’m proud to say that given these times, we’ve given those parents hope and we’ve given those children opportunity.

Whether it be participating in their children’s education, or achieving outcomes like getting a driver’s license, or learning the vocabulary specific to their industry to help advance their career, I’m proud to say that we’ve helped over 50,000 learners through our mission to help drive equity in the community. I encourage you to learn more and help support our vision of a community empowered by the ability to read, write, speak, and understand English.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been in touch with the LCNV for the past 3 years, and I have learnt here a lot in English. I took the ESL classes here, and for the past one year I have been volunteering as Class Aid. My teachers, as well as the staff at the LCNV are very supportive. I highly recommend their ESL programs for new immigrants and refugees. I also recommend this place for volunteers who really want to do something for the diaspora communities in the Northern Virginia. Thanks LCNV for all the support that you provide me.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After I retired, I sought a meaningful volunteer opportunity serving our immigrant community and found it at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. LCNV’s volunteer coordinator worked with me to find a suitable placement that enables me to use my skills, experience, and training provided by LCNV in a productive way. I have volunteered as a teaching assistant for approximately two years, primarily with beginning English students, from all parts of the world. During that time, I have been incredibly impressed with the caliber, dedication, and humanity of the teachers that I have worked with and of my fellow teaching assistants. The students work hard and persevere in even the most difficult circumstances. As a result of the high quality of LCNV’s literacy program and the students’ own commitment, they are able to make significant progress in a relatively short period of time. And they are exceedingly grateful for this opportunity. The teachers and students that I have encountered have also broadened my understanding of other cultures and of the immigrant experience. In sum, my volunteer work with LCNV has been immensely enriching and rewarding.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For the last two years I have supported the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) as a class aide and occasional outreach representative. My Council expereince has exposed me to the broad and worthwhile work the LCNV undertakes to meet its mission. That mission is to provide basic English instruction to those recently arrived in their Northern Virginia communities so they may better assimilate economically and socially into their new communities. The administration is excellent. providing helpful refresher instruction on TESOL (Teaching English to Speaker of Other Languages), and access to an incredible array of teaching resources. The teachers themselves reflect the diversity of the communities of which are a part and which they support. The administration and teachers have imaginatively adapted internet-based techniques to continue their instruction in these pandemic circumstances. And the students - the most ennobling and rewarding part of the program - continue to learn remotely. The LCNV team members provide invaluable support for helping assimilate new citizens into their communities, and they do it selflessly and exceptionally well.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of working as a volunteer teacher at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and I can say it was an amazing experience. I learned alot from my adults students and, most important, it was highly satisfactory to know that adults learned the basic skills of understanding English, so they can access employment and educational opportunities and more fully and equitably participate in the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer teacher at LCNV, I have seen a wide range of adult students eagerly and successfully engaged in learning English and workforce readiness skills. The range of programming and depth of curriculum are particular strengths of LCNV. For example, extra support is offered for learners, including free supplementary tutoring and additional free opportunities for conversation groups. LCNV's leadership is highly professional, knowledgeable about adult education, and responsive to the needs of individual students and volunteer teachers. The staff members offer training and resources to prepare and develop their volunteers. When I retired from teaching in the county schools and became a volunteer with LCNV, I discovered that LCNV blends talented staff with dedicated volunteers to provide the highest quality programming in support of adult education for English language learners.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

For the past six years, I have had the privilege of working in the same building as the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia's administrative office, which is also one of their class sites. The staff and volunteers are very professional, welcoming and they truly care about its mission. As a retired teacher, it brings pleasure to my heart to see the excited faces of the students as they come to class!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I’m very glad I chose the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia to learn English. This organization provides useful courses to immigrants thanks to qualified teachers.
Courses are taught in an atmosphere that guarantees a better understanding. The staff is always creating a great learning environment that makes students look forward to coming to class.
The LCNV helps immigrants learn English and achieve their dreams in United States of America. For instance, many students like me, are able to speak English with confidence, attend job fairs, apply for jobs, interact with neighbors, etc.
Thanks to the LCNV, I was able to write and read my essay during the Annual Recognition Ceremony on June 21th at the James Lee Community theater. It was a very solemn moment that I’II never forget.
I think this organization deserves to be supported for all the help it provides to immigrants.
B.DIA

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer teacher with the LCNV since 2009. Over the years I have watched the organization expand its services to immigrants in need of English as well as life skills. This growth has been well-paced and well-organized. Personally, I have received terrific support from the staff, which has provided excellent training in teaching ESL as well as the day-to-day mundane needs such as teaching materials and a well-equipped classroom. I continue to be amazed at the variety of students we serve. In addition to the students from all the South and Central American countries as well as the bigger Asian and African ones, we often see students from places like Nepal, Mongolia, and the Uyghur region in China. The LCNV not only helps this diverse population learn English, but also brings people together.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

LCNV provides essential services to help immigrants better assimilate into their new communities. By learning English, they are able to converse with their neighbors, understand/communicate with their children's teachers, and interact with others in their community during the normal day-to-day activities that the rest of us tend to take for granted. LCNV students express their gratitude often for the opportunity to take English classes through LCNV classroom programs. Keep up the good work LCNV! You are appreciated!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My wife and I are extremely proud to be involved with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV). We teach dedicated adult learners who want to improve their mastery of English, thus helping them to become more effective employees, to be better able to help their children with schoolwork, and to be more engaged residents in their community. It is an honor to work with our students every week and to see their progress over time. We have been volunteering for LCNV for five years and could not ask for a more supportive and effective set of professionals who constitute the support staff. Come join us - you will both feel good and do good at the same time!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love working with this group of folks. I learned about them in 2009 after I retired from a career of teaching. I started volunteering as a class aide in one of their Beginning English classes. But since then, I have found other roles that I also enjoy. I became certified to administer the Best Plus test to students to determine the students’ appropriate language level when entering the classroom program or the Family Learning Program. I love volunteering at the registrations and meeting the incoming students. I helped students practice their interviewing skills in the Destination Workforce program. I know the Literacy Council has designed a new curriculum and now works with Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, but I haven’t volunteered for that yet. Before the Facebook group called Learner Network was started, I even spent an evening brainstorming with staff and students about how alumni could stay in touch. But my biggest role, and strongest love, is to teach the level one class at the James Lee Community Center. The students have such motivation to learn to speak a new language. The office staff of LCNV offers a tremendous amount of support. I have a SmartBoard in my classroom, I use mobile hotspots each night, and have an assortment of teaching supplies, including iPads, at my disposal. The curriculum, the texts, and the supplemental tutoring program combines to offer beginning language students a very affordable, well organized, instructional program. I have come to rely on the staff of LCNV for their technology expertise, their knowledge of the field of ELL, and their friendly camaraderie every time I stop in the office. LCNV is a great place to spend my retirement!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so honored to have been associated with this organization as a volunteer for the past 4 years. I've served as a teacher's aide, a teacher, a tutor, a tester, and now a booster to let others know how much i believe in LCNV and the work that it is doing. I rarely (if ever) have given a "far exceeds expectations" to an organization, but there are at many reasons LCNV deserves this one. When i retired and joined LCNV 4 years ago, I expected to feel good about joining any organization who's mission was to help the newest (and often neediest) of our non-English speaking communities to participate more fully everyday by learning, speaking, reading and writing English. Who wouldn't want to help? But I didn't expect to be incredibly impressed by the other volunteers who were so warm, welcoming, and dedicated to the LCNV mission; it was so obvious they were making a real difference in the lives of their students and enjoying every minute of it. And i really didn't expect to be impressed with the various and diverse programs LCNV is delivering across a variety of levels from very early learners to more advanced workforce development programs. So those things exceeded my expectations. But the LCNV staff and the LCNV vision have blown me away and far exceeded my expectations with their dedication and vision, demonstrating incredible respect for all learners of all difference cultures and needs. WELL DONE!! I'm in the process of relocating across country so sadly will not be able to volunteer with LCNV in the future. But I want everyone to know I believe in this organization so much I am making small monthly contributions so that LCNV may continue to fund scholarships for the very neediest students.
P.S. Of course I've read other reviews on this site. I can't imagine where the negastive comment originated......a very different LCNV than the one i have known since 2015.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a retired employee of 35 years with several national and local public service nonprofits. I have been an unpaid volunteer with LCNV for 6 years. I have never seen a more highly qualified, dedicated, and hard-working collection of under-paid staff anywhere. Just being around them makes me work harder and better! I just wish I had found this organization sooner! As well as my time, I have donated money to this organization with the confidence that it will be used wisely and effectively. (I cannot believe the negative comment about this organization. My experience spanned at least two extensive financial audits whose reports were blemish-free! The staff wears pencils down to the nubs!) I can attest that the satisfaction that radiates in the faces of its students and graduates (see their website at LCNV.ORG) is real and beautiful.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, I can attest to the outstanding work they do for our community. LCNV staff is passionate about providing non-English speaking adults opportunities to learn how to read, write, speak and understand English enabling them to better engage in their community. With the support of a team of dedicated volunteers, LCNV serves 1,500 English learners in 14 locations throughout Northern Virginia. LCNV staff works tirelessly to ensure volunteer teachers are well trained and the class curriculums meet the highest standards for learning. The impact LCNV has on the lives of their students is unmeasurable. As students begin to master the English language, not only does their confidence soar, they feel more empowered to navigate in society. I look forward to continuing to support this amazing organization - the staff, volunteers and students who are associated with LCNV are truly inspiring.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at LCNV for the past 5 years. The staff and volunteers are dedicated and work together to enable adults to learn English. The staff effectively uses partnerships with businesses to further the mission and fully supports the volunteers. I have enjoyed being able to use my professional skills to be a part of LCNV.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This wonderful organization serves the people who keep our economy going, but are invisible. Next time you are in a restaurant or an office building think about who is cooking and cleaning for you. LCNV provides effective and high quality English language instruction to the lowest levels of adult learners. After participating in English classes at LCNV these folks can read to their children, read prescription labels, and get better jobs. Our community is safer and healthier and the economy more sound when everyone can read English.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Never Suport this organization. They are misusing the fund received from donors. Their accounting is a mess. The EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR is so incapable that ALL good employees are leaving the organization. The work environment is very bad. The Director of Academic and Student Affairs is creating the toxic work environment. The board should clean this up.

Review from Guidestar