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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Literacy Network

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: Literacy Network teaches reading, writing, communication and computer skills to Dane County adults so they can achieve financial security, well-being and deeper engagement with their families and the community.

Results: Literacy Network programs take place throughout Dane County in collaboration with schools, libraries, workplaces, and other community non-profit organizations. With the support of hundreds of volunteers each year, we serve approximately 1,000 adult learners, helping them become better prepared for work, better understand health issues, and provide supportive environments for the education of their children. Our many partnerships in the community help build stronger community connections for adult learners.

Target demographics: adults and families with low-literacy skills

Direct beneficiaries per year: approximately 1,000 adult learners

Geographic areas served: Dane County, WI

Programs: classes and one-on-one tutoring in order to help adults so that they may better meet their literacy needs: to read to their children or help with homework, to fill out a job application, to understand finances, or speak with a doctor about a health concern.

Community Stories

25 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a retired teacher and was new to the Madison area when I first became aware of an exciting volunteer position with Literacy Network. I got involved because I love to teach and the building we use is very accessible for my physical challenges.I was delightfully surprised with the training, the availability of materials and ongoing support that is offered to make your volunteer experience as successful as possible.Nothing prepared me for the caliber of students that we meet to take advantage of this wonderful community resource pursuing a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Literacy Network provides help to all ages & all ethnicities. I have personally worked with 10 students who have taught me the true meaning of hard work and determination to make our lives "richer" and to eventually continue the value of education/literacy to others in their communities.Congratulations on providing so many people with resources to make their world a better place together. It has been a privilege to be a part of this fine resource. All our students are asked to write down their goals. LitNet goes one step farther and turns those goals into dreams that can come true. THE BIGGER THE DREAM, THE GREATER THE POSSIBILITIES.

Shirley V.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Hello Literacy Network, I am a great grandmother of a eleventh grader and a kindergarten student. Although I live in Mississippi it's so hard for me, watching these kids not learning because, some parents are working and other young moms are just lazy. Please put the back in school especially the younger ones so they can start having a foundation. It's so sad so many will be loss when you come together with a plan. You guys have all of this technology at your disposal and this system of things need repairs bad. Sincerely Shirley J Boyd

Comments ( 1 )

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jeffburkhart 12/07/2020

Hi Shirley, Thanks for taking the time to write to us! We serve adult learners in Madison, WI, and are not able to impact how schools are teaching children in grades K-12. Sincerely, Literacy Network

2 Peter L.4

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been an enthusiastic donor to Literacy Network for years, and the good they do in our community is amazing. I appreciate that they run a lean operation, leveraged by hundreds of volunteers, making donations go far. The staff is remarkable, and share the same vision and mission---improving lives of adult learners and their families, and in turn raising up the entire community. From citizenship classes, to general literacy, computer skills and more, they instill confidence in their learners, and are a forward-thinking and nimble organization, always coming up with new ways to improve what they do. Gifts of time and money to this organization are a wonderful investment!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Even facing COVID, they've adapted to Zoom tutoring meetings with students. It doesn't beat in person, but the students I've tutored still love the interaction! It's given them a chance to continue their goals, but also an outlet to keep their minds off of what's happening.

With more than 55,000 in our county (Dane) that lack literacy, it's important to keep going even when the going gets tough. The relationships between tutors and students goes beyond the textbooks and tests, it's uplifting!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Literacy Network is a very necessary organization for many adults of different ages who want to improve their level of knowledge of English in order to get an education, job and be able to better communicate with people, to participate in many areas of American society.
The Citizenship class helps a lot to prepare for passing the Citizenship exam.
When the pandemic of coronavirus began classes began to be conducted in the Zoom meetings. And this is greate, its works. We can see our teacher Mona Soltani every week. We can ask questions, get answers and get new knowledge about the history of America from the time of its creation to the present . We can participate in conversations with classmates on various interesting topics.
This class is very helpful. I am very grateful to our wonderful, kind, educated, friendly and caring teacher Mona Soltani.
Thanks Literacy Network

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have a business relationship with Literacy Network and my experience has been very positive. Management and the board care about having systems in place to prevent or detect misstatements and/or misappropriation. They desire transparency and accuracy with the highest regard. They light up when talking about their programs and their work. Their passion shows through and through.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began tutoring in the spring of 2018 as an ESL tutor. By that fall, I added tutoring GED students, and in January of the next year I decided to also become a citizenship tutor. Why? Because I thoroughly enjoyed it! But also because the more I learned about the Literacy Network, the more I wanted to find ways to contribute to the important work they did in my community. They open their doors to many, yet treat each person who walks through them as an individual...an individual who has their own unique goals and ways of learning. It is a welcoming place that partners adults who are eager to learn with volunteers who are excited to teach. I feel that they appreciate and value the potential in every student and they go above and beyond to help them reach their goals. As a volunteer, it is a joy to be around a staff that is focused on helping each person in supportive and meaningful ways and to interact with ambitious, hard-working students who show up every week, motivated to learn.

5 Isabel B.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am very grateful for the support of the Literacy Network. They are very committed to literacy and organizing makes a huge difference in our lives. The classes are very inclusive, the teachers always answer our questions, they are very kind and understanding. In fact, teaching aids such as books and materials are of great help for our development.
However, the success of this organization depends on you as a student, because you have to push yourself in every class, and every day you have to do your best.
Thanks, Literacy Network.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer and advocate for 4+ years. I was attracted to this organization because they do so much to empower people in every aspect of their lives. Literacy is a lifelong gift that raises individuals and communities.

My direct experience is with their citizenship tutoring program. By helping immigrants and refugees get access to the tools and resources they need to pursue naturalization the Literacy Network is directly helping individuals participate in their community.

6 Leah S.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a tutor with Literacy Network. It's been wonderful to see the profound impact Literacy Network has on adult learners and their families, through helping them with their education, English, communication, community resources, and much more. I've also been inspired by how hard the employees work to address peoples' needs and the scope of the organization.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Literacy network has two significant strengths. It provides a service that is vitally important, and it does it very well. A moment's thought will tell you that becoming literate will remove barriers and create opportunities in every aspect of a persons life. The network is able to help its learners succeed because it's well run and well staffed, and because it is constantly evolving and improving its programs by listening to the learners and giving them a voice in the way the programs are shaped.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Literacy Network is not just about reading and writing - it's about quality of life and our community! Literacy directly affects one's health, finances, ability to get and maintain employment, and interpersonal relationships. Without a basic grasp of the English language, one's outcomes in these areas are diminished. Literacy Network does not just teach basic skills, but provides a toolbox for its learners to use for a lifetime. And when you consider that 1 in 7 adults in Dane County do not have these basic skills, it puts into perspective how literacy affects the entire community.

Literacy Network, through its variety of programming and one-on-one tutoring provides free literacy classes to adult learners, so they can achieve - and exceed - basic outcomes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Literacy Network has also proven itself to be incredibly flexible, working as a resource hub and referral source for those learners affected, while also pivoting to a virtual learning platform to continue the mission of literacy education. A necessary organization before, they have made themselves indispensable now.

I have been on the board for Literacy Network since 2015 and have watched them grow - blossom, really - into a safe, dependable organization with the capacity to serve larger numbers of students each year. Thank you for everything you do for our community!

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have donated for years to Literacy Network because of the impactful work it does in our community and the many interactions I've had with Literacy Network staff. I recently became a Board member, and am even more impressed with their excellent organization and communication. As a board member, I appreciate their transparency and the staff's work on behalf of students. They've gone above and beyond in so many ways to support learners during COVID-19 in creative and impactful ways. As a donor, I know my donations are being used effectively and efficiently, and that staff are thoroughly engaged in their work of helping adults in Dane County increase their literacy skills and improve their lives and the lives of their entire families.

3 Anne Sontag K.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Literacy Network has so many great programs for adult learners: literacy (reading & writing) class; finishing your high school degree; learning English; computer skills, passing the Citizenship exam. All these help adults get better jobs and participate in our democracy more.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being an adult literacy tutor has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I have developed a close relationship with my student and her 10 year old daughter over the past two years. We meet in a study room at a local library and each week they pick out 5 to 10 books to check out for the coming week. We always take 10 to 15 minutes for them to read out loud to each other during our sessions. We had been using my library card for check out but yesterday they got their own cards!

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Literacy Network is a great organization. Literacy Network offers free or low-cost literacy services to adult learners. It is difficult to overstate the organization's impact on the learners, their families, and the greater community. I have volunteered as a citizenship exam tutor and seen how their work changes lives. I have also been a board member the past several years and know the staff is passionate about the mission and efficient in the methods they use to deliver on that mission.

Imagine navigating the pandemic with low literacy skills. Imagine having a child in remote learning without English proficiency to talk to your child's teacher. Literacy Network empowers adults in these and similar situations to succeed in all aspects of their lives. The organization also provides outstanding volunteer opportunities to the community through many tutoring programs. Connecting the adult learners with tutors leads to positive outcomes beyond just the students' success stories. It builds strong community and reminds us to look out for one another - something that is now more important than ever.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with the Literacy Network for 6+ years. The staff and other volunteers have been amazing! Everyone is very dedicated to helping our ESL community improve their lives through English language classes, citizenship classes, GED classes and many others. The dedication of the teachers is wonderful to see. Our students are always treated with encouragement, understanding and friendliness. Our citizenship class has had a wonderful success rate and watching the students achieve their dreams of becoming a citizen is heart-warming.

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at the Literacy Network since May 2013. I tutor an ESL learner as well as help teach a citizenship class. Both of these have been wonderful experiences. Seeing learners make improvements in their English and therefore make big changes in their lives is very rewarding. All of the learners are very grateful for the assistance. The staff of the Lit Net is wonderful. Everyone there is supportive and deeply committed to the welfare of the ESL community.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A positive light for so many, the Literacy Network is necessary to the growth of literacy in Madison/Wisconsin. While volunteering for a summer, I was able to meet some of the most genuine employees who did whatever they could to benefit those in need. In all of my volunteer and professional experiences, working with the Literacy Network was by far the most rewarding time I have had at an organization.
The difference the Literacy Network makes on so many is truly remarkable and I hope they continue to receive the proper funding and volunteerism it takes to benefit those who are integrating into English language and culture.

3 Michelle303

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Literacy network stands out, to me, for two reasons:
1. It provides such an essential service. It truly is impossible to get ahead in a county when you don't speak their language. You feel alienated. I've been there. It's not good. We are providing these people with TRULY life-changing information.
2. Every one at the literacy network is totally committed. You can just sense and see how their hearts are in the work, and how much everyone cares. I volunteer at a lot of different organizations, and there is almost always at least one person who appears to be there not of their own volition, to be holding back and stubborn, but not here.

Review from Guidestar

1 Elaina G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Professional, reliable, overall a great organization.

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with the Literacy Network since 2002. I enjoy being part of an organization that continues to grow every year. While keeping up with modern technology, the staff also makes a big effort to take a personal interest in every student and teacher, especially when advice is asked for. They approach any situation with empathy. They always have time to listen and give constructive insights. I am amazed by the growing number of ways they are reaching out into the community. The newsletters capture genuine purpose and enthusiasm. I have learned a lot as a tutor. i really enjoy being a part of the Literacy Network.

Review from Guidestar

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Literacy Network is the gold standard for a small non-profit taking on an enormous challenge effectively. The staff supports hundreds of volunteer tutors who work with learners from around the world. As an ESL tutor and tutor for citizenship, I can always count on staff to train me, help me find the right resources, and encourage me and my learners. For this reason, I have seen learners change their lives in significant ways, qualifying for better jobs, learning how to work with healthcare providers and schools, and gaining confidence as they communicate more effectively in English. The work of volunteers supplements the classes and special community projects that staff plan and implement. In addition to improving literacy in our county, Literacy Network very often brings tutors and learners into long-term supportive relationships. I believe that these relationships improve all of our lives, acting as a counter-weight to forces that otherwise keep our lives separate.


Review from Guidestar

2 Brett10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

basically, they help people who don't speak/read/write english (or don't speak/read/write it as well as they would like) learn how to. this is good for everyone in the community, not just the learner. anyway, their resources are great, they provide lots of resources to learners who want to take advantage of them. seems like a well managed and run organization. respects the feedback of its volunteers.

Review from Guidestar

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is such a great organization. I have worked with some amazing students who are so grateful for the opportunity to learn/improve their English. To see their progress and know you had a part in it is truly gratifying. What also makes this organization stand out is its desire to tailor the learning experience to the student's specific goals, rather than having a cookie-cutter approach.

Review from Guidestar