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Outreach Services

READ/San Diego - Adult and Family Literacy Services

READ/San Diego logo

READ/San Diego is a free literacy instruction service for adults 18 years and older. This award winning program has become a model for the country. It is staffed with literacy professionals, who work with community organizations and coordinate the efforts of volunteer reading tutors to teach adults to read and write, and improve literacy in San Diego.

Volunteer Literacy Tutors Needed Now!

More than 150 people are on a waiting list for this free literacy program! Become a Volunteer Literacy Tutor. Your volunteerism can help change lives! See real life stories:

  • Maria Gonzalez
    Following her participation in the Library's READ/San Diego program, Maria Gonzalez passed her GED, found a job and became active in her children's education. Read more about Maria Gonzalez (PDF).
  • Bob Perez
    At eighty-eight-years old, Bob Perez proves you can gain literacy skills at any age. Read more about Bob Perez (PDF).
  • 2011 READ/San Diego Honorees
    See how READ's students, with the help of their tutors, are developing the skills they need to attain their goals and reach for their dreams.
Kristin Pedersen-Carver and Monika Perez reviewing lesson materials.

Kristin Pedersen-Carver and Monika Perez reviewing lesson materials.

Why Literacy Matters

In San Diego County alone, there are over 450,000 adults who cannot read and write well enough to take care of the everyday tasks that we take for granted. That means they can't read medicine labels, recipes, or even the guide on the television. Many cannot read to their small children, which puts the children at a disadvantage when they begin school.

READ/San Diego is working every day to make a difference in those people's lives by empowering them to read. Our professional staff of literacy experts coordinates the efforts of volunteer reading tutors and cooperates with local adult schools, community colleges and other literacy education providers in making and receiving student referrals.

Families for Literacy Program

In addition to providing individual one-on-one tutoring for adults, READ also conducts Families for Literacy. This program is designed to break the cycle of intergenerational low-literacy, by teaching low-literate parents and caregivers with pre-school children the skills to be their children's first and most important teacher. Families for Literacy also provides age-appropriate books to help families build home libraries - a critical component for improving literacy for the whole family.

2010 writing class

Literacy AmeriCorps member Helen Warner (standing) and Barbara Rojas (seated left) teaching a basic writing class at READ/San Diego's computer lab.

Families for Literacy Calendars

Families for Literacy FAQ (PDF)

See real life stories about how families' lives have been changed:

  • Maria Federico
    Maria Federico brings her youngest children to the Library twice a month to attend the Families for Literacy programs - an activity that is making a big difference for her son, Oscar Acevedo. Read more about Maria's story (PDF).
  • Erika Sayas
    "Thanks to this wonderful program, my kids have become early readers, all of them!" Read more about Erika's story (PDF).

Tutor Conference

READ/San Diego hosts an annual tutor conference open to all volunteer tutors as well as professional adult teachers at the University of San Diego. This exciting event is full of workshops and lectures given by literacy experts at major leading institutions around the country.

  • Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 24th Annual Tutor Conference
    • Keynote Speaker - Mindy L. Kornhaber, associate professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State, will present Multiple Intelligences: Expanding Views of the Learner.
    • 24th Annual Tutor Conference Brochure (PDF)
  • Saturday, June 15, 2013 - 23rd Annual Tutor Conference
    • Keynote Speaker - Nanci Bell, CEO of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, will present Imagery: A Sensory Cognitive Foundation for the Component Parts of Reading
    • 23rd Annual Tutor Conference Brochure (PDF)
  • Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 22nd Annual Tutor Conference
    • Keynote Speaker - Educator Denise Eide will speak about her award-winning book, Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common Sense Solution to America's Literacy Crisis
    • 22nd Annual Tutor Conference Brochure (PDF)
  • Saturday, June 11, 2011 - 21st Annual Tutor Conference
    • Keynote Speaker - Dr. Robert Brooks, a clinical psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, who is an internationally recognized speaker on motivation, resilience, family relationships, and balancing personal and professional lives, spoke on The Power of Mindsets: Strategies for Nurturing Hope and Resilience.
    • 21st Annual Tutor Conference Brochure (PDF)
  • Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 20th Annual Tutor Conference
    • Keynote Speaker - Dr. Maryanne Wolf, internationally known researcher and author of the critically acclaimed book, Proust and the Squid. She spoke on Literacy, Dyslexia and the Reading Brain.
    • 20th Annual Tutor Conference Brochure (PDF)
Mariana Gomez with her sons

Mariana Gomez with her sons, Felipe and German at City Heights Families for Literacy Program

Awards and News

READ/San Diego has been recognized as a model literacy program and has been repeatedly recognized nationwide for its community service and literacy leadership. Our dedication to providing comprehensive, unique modern programs has resulted in numerous grants and awards.

  • 2011 - READ's Families for Literacy Program wins $10,000 award (PDF) from Better Books and the National Center for Literacy.
  • 2006 - READ/San Diego was honored with the Advancement of Literacy Award from the American Library Association. The national award honors a publisher, bookseller, hardware and/or software dealer, foundation or similar group that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of adult literacy. Read the full Advancement of Literacy Award press release. (PDF)
  • 2004 - READ/San Diego was named one of the top community partnerships in the nation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education. Read the full Top Community Partnerships press release. (PDF)

Become a Volunteer!

At any given time, there are upwards of 150 people on a waiting list to take advantage of this free literacy program. Helping someone learn to read is giving the gift of knowledge with the power to change their entire world! If you want to make a difference, please take a look at our Volunteer Opportunities and contact READ/San Diego at today!

To qualify, a volunteer:
  • must be 18 years of age or older
  • must have good reading and writing skills
  • must have three to five hours of time each week to volunteer (includes time for travel, lesson preparation, and tutoring)
  • must make a minimum six month commitment to your assigned adult learner
As a volunteer you will:
  • be provided a 15 hour training
  • be provided tutoring materials and books
  • tutor an adult learner twice a week, for an hour and a half each session
  • meet at a public library or one of our learning centers
  • have on-going support from the literacy professionals on staff at READ/San Diego

Watch short video interviews of real adult learners at: Click on the video links at the top right of the web page.


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