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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Literacy Pittsburgh

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education, Ethnic & Immigrant Centers, Human Services, Immigration, Job Training, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement, Vocational Counseling

Mission: The mission of Literacy Pittsburgh is better lives through learning.

Results: After 50 hours of instruction, 71% of students show improvement on standardized tests. We welcome people from more than 90 different countries and help them to thrive in their new home. Last year, 74% of students reported increased confidence with their English, reading, writing or math skills, positioning them for future success. Each year, more than 650 volunteers give 77,000 hours to help our students succeed.

Target demographics: adults and families who seek more fulfilling and productive lives through education

Direct beneficiaries per year: 4,500 adults and families

Geographic areas served: Allegheny and Beaver Counties

Programs: workforce skills, adult reading, writing and math skills, English as a second language, immigrant and refugee support, family literacy, high school equivalency exam prep, and Oasis intergenerational tutoring.

Community Stories

143 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

My story is that I attended an ABE orientation session in 2013 at the Homewood Library. After completing the test, I was informed that my scores where too low too go ahead and take the GED test. It was suggested that I attend FREE classes at GPLC. I did! I started Jan. 2013 and I continued all year twice a week for the year. I was placed in a classroom in the downtown center. My instructor was Ms. Rachel. She worked with me. She didn't allow me to give up. She pushed me and I pushed myself. Finally, on December 6, 2013, I took the GED test and passed! I will be attending the graduation ceremony on Friday, September 5, 2014 at Macy's on the 11th floor in the auditorium.

In conclusion I want to say that through all of this, I was homeless, but determined to reach my goal. I thank God for the staff at GPLC and the free literacy services they offer. They make it possible for others to reach their goals, just like me. Thank you GPLC!

Client Served

Rating: 5

In 2013 I became a student at GPLC. I entered the GED preparation program so that I could soon take the GED tests. I struggled in math and writing mostly. The journey was long and hard. But I was able to overcome because of the teacher's that were able to make me understand what I was learning. Their ability to break the lessons down were so helpful too me. I want to especially thank Kate who was one of the volunteers at GPLC that assisted in the class with learning word problems. She was amazing! She helped me learn how to figure out the problems. Luke was my main instructor. He played a big part also. I additionally worked with a gentleman from Urban League where I first started working on my GED. He encouraged me to attend GPLC. What a life changing experience! Thank you Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council for giving me another chance to reach my goal. Thanks to GPLC, I am now attending CCAC majoring in Software Development and Socialwork.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before coming to GPLC I had no ability to speak English at all. Now that I can communicate much better with people, I feel more confident. Now that I'm attending the ged class so that I can take the ged tests and attend CCAC for the nursing program. Thank you GPLC for helping me to turn my dreams into reality.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi! I am a 43 year old student, that is very thankful for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Program. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be able to get my diploma. They are wonderful, very encouraging happy people who enjoys helping others. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there that need diplomas and need adult education brush up, and this is the place that can help. I thank the lord for my teacher because he is calm,helpful, and he encourages you. Thank you GPLC and God Bless you.

Client Served

Rating: 4

I'm a student of GPLC and I'm so glad that they gave me the chance to complete my school.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I' m a student of G P L C. I am so thankful for all the teacher's at Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council for the help . They have helped me in many ways.

Client Served

Rating: 5

GPLC is a place where I learned English as a second language. The Teacher's are very good and kind. The student's are helpful too. At GPLC I studied there for my citizenship. I became a citizen on March 21, 2014! I plan to attend GED classes at GPLC soon, so that I can take the GED tests. My goal is to get my GED diploma. I would like to participate in GPLC's GED graduation one day.

Thank you GPLC for everything!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This program really helped me with my work. The actually take the time to help heir students understand the work before they have to take to the test. My goal was to finish the program with in seven months and I did. I really got a better understand on the work. I was't rushed either when I didn't understand something I told my teacher and she took the time to help me. I'm really thankful that I got a chance to come to this program. Thank for allowing people to come, grow and be able to continue going to school.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council helped me to change my lilfe by allowing me to participate in their free literacy program. I walked through the doors of GPLC in 2012 for GED prep classes. I attended the classes 4 times a week. The learning atmosphere was exceptional. The teachers are amazing in teaching each lesson. All because of GPLC, I was able to accomplish my GED goal. I recommend their agency to those that are interested in pursuing their education. Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council you are doing great things!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I want to thank GPLC for giving me a chance to achieve my GED goal. My instructor is very uinderstanding, helpful, and caring. Thank you GPLC for a great opportunity too pursue my education again.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I would like to thank the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council for their help in helping me accomplish my GED goal! What an inspiring place to go and learn the many things to help you reach your goal. The staff are caring, kind, very helpful and always taking time to make sure I understand what is being taught. They never let me move on without having a good understanding of what I'm learning. I applaud you GPLC!

Thank you all!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering with GPLC! The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council has given me a wonderful opportunity to give back to my community and also pushed me to grow as an individual. GPLC prepares their volunteer tutors very well, providing training courses and mentoring. The staff is incredibly helpful too; whenever I have questions or concerns, my coordinator is always there to help. I would highly recommend this organization to anyone interested in tutoring.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I registered for the Adult Basic Education (Literacy) workshop in October 2009, which I thought was tremendous, and went on to focus on GED preparation. I tutored a GED student for more than two and a half years until my student passed this August. When my student passed, it was very difficult to stop smiling for several days! Very few things are comparable to helping someone finally accomplish a lifetime education goal. I plan to continue tutoring GED with GPLC in the future, because we are quite literally opening up lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

To do adult tutoring has been a goal of mine for many years. My motivations are twofold -- remembering the pain of being a square peg in a round hole in elementary school, and having gained confidence and momentum, realizing much has come because I have had access to more than my share of resources.

My experience with GPLC has been very rewarding. After a few evenings of tutor training, my regional coordinator matched me with my first student. Each student comes to the tutor ready to succeed. First of all, if they went to GPLC to ask for help, you know they are ready to learn. I am now on my 3rd student, and have found this to be true every time. GPLC has also worked to prepare the student. Each student is tested to determine her/his exact needs, and an education specialist provides the tutor with a description of those needs and the materials to use in working with them.

In each case the materials have been very helpful. Yet, it has also been fun, as I get to know the student, to find other materials that really spark the student's interest and fuel the journey.

I was a bit worried about where we would meet. But it has not been a problem. Tutors are asked to meet their student in a public facility which is convenient for both student and tutor. So, in each case, my GPLC coordinator has found a library and cleared the way for us.

It is so wonderful to get to know these fantastic people who come to GPLC to learn and better themselves, and ready to work hard. It's really fun for both student and tutor. You can see each student open, over time, like a flower, and I find my spirit lifted being a part of the journey.

Donna2345678

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a volunteer, I want my time to be used wisely and not wasted. I want to know that I have had an effect on the organization and I also want the experience to be interesting for me. As a volunteer ESL tutor for three years with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, I have found all of this and more.

I know that I have made a big difference in my students' lives as they adjust to their new country and culture. I have helped them get their drivers' licenses, pass the GED test, get better jobs, and prepare for the citizenship test.

My students have taught me as well. They have taught me about their countries and cultures and they have helped me understand the world a little better. Their paths to America have humbled me and made me even more appreciative of my own life.

Volunteering with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council has been a very rewarding experience.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After relocating to Pittsburgh a few years ago, I tried several volunteer organizations, but none provided me with the training and professional development opportunites like that of the Greater Pittsburgh LIteracy Council. I have been an ESL (English as a second language) adult tutor with GPLC for over a year and my experience has been personally very rewarding. Volunteers are treated as an important part of the organization and we are reminded of that through monthly meetings, workshops, and continuing professional development opportunities. You do not need to be an expert in English grammar to be a tutor. Training just takes 12 hours of your time and is spread out over 4 days at convenient locations. There is also no expense to the volunteer other than their own transportation to the classes. After training, volunteers are matched with students and then meet with them 4 hours a week at a place and time mutually agreed upon. Each student is evaluted by a staff member of the organization and then given a "prescription" for achieving their goals to become more skilled at conversation, reading, and writing. We are given textbooks to use with our students, but we are also encouraged to introduce our students to everyday American culture--and that is where it is especially fun. Currently, I have a Rwandan and an Italian student. I think I learn as much from them as they do from me. In the past year, besides helping them improve their language skills, I have seen them through driver's license tests, attended the wedding of one, helped another with job applications and interviews, and celebrated when they landed their first American jobs. They are now looking forward to their next goals and, eventually, becoming American citizens.
For me, personally, being part of their progress has been a wonderful experience. They are not just my students, they have become my friends. Through them I have developed an even deeper appreciation of my country and I look forward to the day when I watch them sworn in as new citizens of the United States.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

GPLC provides a valuable service to people who wish to develop their English language skills, and I would recommend the organization to anyone interested in this kind of volunteer work.

My own experience has been in the area of English as a Second Language (ESL). As a GPLC volunteer since 2008, I’ve worked for varying lengths of time with eleven advanced ESL students, eight from Eastern Asia and three from Eastern Europe, sometimes one-on-one and sometimes in small groups. My students have been, without exception, interesting, personable, conscientious, and appreciative. Meeting with them has been intellectually stimulating as well as a lot of fun for me.

In return for a minimal amount of monthly reporting, GPLC provides lots of support—training, resources, area coordinators, student information and needs assessments, a “mentor” service involving more experienced tutors, and a wide variety of networking and ongoing development activities, both locally and on a wider scale. On a day-to-day basis, the tutor has a lot of freedom to structure lessons as appropriate, based on the needs, proficiency level and learning style of the students. My lesson preparation time has varied in relation to the relative formality of the approach best suited to my students’ goals.

ESL tutoring involves some time and work, but I’ve found that any investments I’ve made have been amply rewarded in many ways. If you’re attracted to the idea of helping people from other countries learn more about our language and culture, and if you’d like to broaden your own horizons by getting involved with some very interesting people from other parts of the world, then GPLC may be the ideal volunteering opportunity for you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working for GPLC as a volunteer ESL tutor has been a great experience for me. Over the past seven years I’ve tutored many different students. They have all been enthusiastic learners who have inspired me in countless ways. While leading busy lives, the students are still able to find time to study English and they are always eager and willing to work hard. Often our meetings are the only occasion the students have for practicing their English in a non threatening setting and they are grateful and appreciative for this opportunity. I cherish the connections and relationships that I have made through tutoring. The professional staff of GPLC is very helpful about assisting tutors with resource material and other support. My local coordinator is wonderful and offers encouragement when needed. Attending monthly “Tutor Talks” is informative and a good way to meet other tutors and brainstorm new ideas. If you are looking for a meaningful way to make a contribution to your community, please consider contacting GPLC. You do not have to be an education expert but merely have the desire to make someone’s life a little easier. Volunteering with GPLC is enjoyable, extremely rewarding and just a whole lot of fun!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a tutor with GPLC for 3 years. I wanted to give back and have a true life-changing impact for someone. The organization has helped me achieve that and more. The folks at GPLC are an amazing group of highly-committed individuals who are truly invested in the improving education in region.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After 30 years as an English teacher, I chose to volunteer with GPLC in retirement. Four years ago. I took their ESL training. It has been wonderfully fulfilling work. Several students have commented that, in addition to gaining language skills, they are pleased to actually know an American. Many have few real relationships with Americans because their English isn't really good enough to engage in conversations beyond the superficial. Students in this program have told me they feel encouraged by their tutors and thus find the courage to engage more fully in American life. GPLC support is excellent and volunteering with them is entirely worthwhile!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer ESL tutor for the GPLC for six years. I volunteered because I want to give back and help immigrants learn English which they really need living here. The GPLC takes in and tests potential students and prepares a professional analysis of their English needs and goals with recommendations for class plans and suggestions that might work well with the students. They also provide texts to use and are available for suggestions to solve problems, etc. the staff that I have dealt with is very professional and dedicated to help the students. They are amiable, intelligent and go out of their way to help us tutors do the best that we can for our students. Tom Harter

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been an ESL tutor with GPLC for 3 years now and it's the most rewarding and important thing I do. Besides the wonderful feeling I get from helping people who want to learn English, I also enjoy the fact that I'm helping to create a good impression of America and Americans. I currently tutor 8 students, and our twice-weekly classes are something I look forward to. No matter what kind of a mood I'm in when I leave for class, I'm always in a great mood when I get there.
GPLC is a great organization, the best I've ever volunteered with. The training and support they provide makes it easy to make a difference in someone's life. Get involved--it won't take long for you to wonder why you waited so long!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council is a great organization, providing satisfaction and fulfillment for both its volunteers and its students. I've been an ESL tutor with them for almost three years and have been impressed with the training and support their dedicated staff offers on a continuing basis. The organization is truly making a difference not only in individual lives but in the world. Having worked with other volunteer organizations in the past, I feel GPLC is THE BEST!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with GPLC for 4 years. Initially I worked with a young woman who was trying to pass her GED. Next I was assigned to work with a man who has learning disabilities as well as suffering from a brain injury due to a car accident. We have been together for 3 years, and it has been a most rewarding albeit frustrating experience. He is difficult and demanding, but we have developed a very strong relationship. GLPC and their district supervisors have been most supportive and have provided us with ample materials. If you are someone who enjoys a hands-on experience, I highly recommend volunteering with GPLC. Cary Reed

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering as an ESL tutor is the most rewarding volunteer work I've ever loved. I plan to continue to volunteer with GPLC because they give me the freedom to do what I love in a way that is comfortable for me and the population we serve. THe student and I0 choose the time and place most convenient for us to meet. I create the lessons and the connection with the student. As a volunteer I have the freedom to work with my tutee in what ever capacity he or she needs, whether it be practicing making phone calls or how to interview for a job. The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council has offers so much support to tutors. There are opportunities for development, exchange of cultural ideas, and interchange of teaching methods. The best part about working with this organization is that the volunteers, over the course of several months, are able to see sustainable change in their students and know how they have contributed to the mission.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I must say, it brings me great joy to volunteer as a telephone conversation partner for Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. Gplc is a wonderful non-profit organization that goes the extra mile to strengthen literacy skills for it's students. Also, the organization gives great tools for it's staff and volunteers. It is my goal to continue to have a "can-do" attitude and to go the extra mile for the students of Gplc. Tamyka Ramsey

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've volunteered for GPLC for about six years, steadily for the past 3 1/2, most recently tutoring a local man who started out reading at a first-grade level. He has slowly progressed, and aside from providing space for us to meet GPLC has been consistently helpful and responsive to requests for materials and other assistance, and proactive in offering additional help and promoting staff development.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've been volunteering with GPLC for about four years, and matched with three native English-speaking adults, longest and most recently with a man in his 40s who has dyslexia and never learned to read. Over the past two and a half years we've met twice weekly and he's made slow but steady progress. GPLC provides the space for us to meet and has been helpful and responsive with requests for tutoring materials and other assistance.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GPLC has linked me with many great mentees to work with. I have helped students learn English to excel at their day jobs and future goals. I totally support GPLC in growing to be an even stronger organization, with my support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a tutor for GPLC for 2 years, teaching English as a second language to small groups of foreign professionals. This volunteer job is extremely rewarding because of the language skills I can teach my students, the cultural experiences we share as a group, the field trips we take, and the friendships that develop. The GPLC administration is supportive by giving the materials I ask for and by facilitating useful workshops both for tutors and for students.

Julie234567

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I feel like the volunteer work I do for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council is valued and supported. The tutor training provides a thorough and sound foundation which is flexible enough for me to create my own learning tools for my students' specific needs. A variety of learning activities are provided for GPLC students and tutors outside of class, and the achievement of goals is celebrated appropriately. I enjoy tutoring and helping my students realize their life objectives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I retired from many years of public school teaching in 2004, I started to volunteer in the ESL program for the GPLC. It has been a very rewarding experience because I was able to use the training provided to help 1 Palestinian and 5 Chinese immigrants learn to make their way in their new life. Two students have become citizens, and three more are preparing to do that. Several have obtained better jobs. I, myself, have found that I learn as much from them as they learn from me. Of course, all of us find the truths about human nature.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Literacy*AmeriCorps member serving at the Downtown Center teaching a low beginner ESL class. Since starting to teach classes to immigrant and refugees in September, the difference I have seen in my students is amazing. More so than improved test scores and better performances in class (which I have definitely seen), I am impressed by their ever-expanding capacity to communicate with me person-to-person, tell me stories and jokes, and interact with me and other foreign students as friends.

GPLC has been supportive of me and my fellow AmeriCorps members as teachers-- from training us to providing us with materials to giving us guidance from experienced professionals when we need advice on learning differences or creating good lesson plans. This organization is full of wonderful people who really care about helping students and clients.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Compass AmeriCorps member through GPLC. At my service site we refer many of our refugee clients to GPLC for family literacy, general ESL, and Vocational ESL classes. Our clients enjoy going to ESL classes at GPLC and learn very fast, especially in the Vocation English class.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with GPLC as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Beginning with Books. I saw so many children get a good start, and I learned so much. Now, as a children's librarian, I put that experience to good use. GPLC is the type of program that helps everybody!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I assisted in teaching recent immigrants understand our culture and to feel accepted and to help teach them our English language. I was overwhelmed with the amount of eagerness and the way they attended classes and was always prepared. Most of the immigrants went through a lot to get to this country and to speak even a little of our language and I was very humbled. I also was very impressed that some of them could speak many languages and already had jobs. I was very proud to help further attain their goals as a newly arrived immigrant.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In August 2009 until February 2010 I lived in Pittsburgh with my nephew that work there. This time I got a studant in ELS for 6 months and in GPLC for the last week I stay in Pittsburgh. I would like to stay for more time but I need to came back to my country because the imagration gave me only 6 months to stay in USA. Now I'm going to Pittsburgh in March 28, 2011. I'll visit my nephew and I'll study English again but I would like to get a volunteer work too because I think, How long time I spend together with American people more easy I learn and speak English.
In my country(Brazil) I'm an economist. I worked in traffic department but now I'm retired. I have a free time and I get a freedom.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a volunteer at GPLC has been one of the best experiences of my adult life because the opportunities co-evolve so that both students and volunteers get more out of the programs over the years. Whether I have time to give two hours twice a week to 1-4 students or only have time to spend 1/2 hour once a week on the phone with another, GPLC provides ongoing training, support and encouragement. Staff is energetic and creative and always takes time to improve an individual's learning experience.