Celebrate National Literacy Month by signing up to volunteer for Literacy Pittsburgh. Literacy Pittsburgh is an organization with a simple mission: better lives through learning. Originating as the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (renamed in 2018), the organization has provided the greater Pittsburgh area with learning opportunities since 1982. Classes and tutoring services are provided to adults and families, typically from vulnerable communities, for free. Topics covered include GED preparation, math, English, workplace skills, reading and more. Their educational services help more than 5,000 people in the community every year gain skills needed to succeed in work and job training.

However, Literacy Pittsburgh depends on volunteer tutors and teachers to operate. Each year, 700 volunteers share their time and talents to help students reach their personal and professional goals. There is a dire need for volunteers to meet the demand, as education is highly sought out during times of economic and social turmoil—like during the pandemic.

Photo provided by Literacy Pittsburgh; Pre-pandemic, English language learners and volunteers engage in conversation practice.

Here are 10 Reasons to Volunteer for Literacy Pittsburgh:

1. Help Neighbors In Need

In tough times, communities that rally together come out on top. Historically, minorities, immigrants, and individuals without a degree suffer the most during economic downturns. Help vulnerable populations in our community succeed in the pandemic through working as a volunteer. Your efforts will help teach the skills needed to be competitive in today’s challenging economic climate.

2. Practice Your Social Responsibility

As social and racial injustice acts continue, you may feel a larger need to contribute to the cause. The pandemic may have restricted you to contributing to these important movements through limited means, such as social media. Through working with underserved populations, volunteers help create a direct and lasting effect on those who face limited access to opportunities.

3. Build Your Resume

Volunteering helps show passion, work ethic, and a willingness to learn. If you’re currently between jobs, volunteering is a productive way to fill a job gap while gaining skills and creating tangible change for others.

4. Expand Your Horizons

Meet people from all over the world and from different socioeconomic backgrounds than your own. Tutors gain a new perspective from learning about their students’ vastly different experiences, cultures, histories, and challenges.

5. Challenge Yourself

Push yourself out of your comfort zone! Tutors often credit teaching a subject as the best way to learn a new skill and build strengths.  

6. Feel Rewarded

Watching students reach their goals is an incredibly fulfilling experience. Hearing about a student land a job using newly acquired English conversational skills, pass their GED exam, or get into college will confirm that you’re making a positive impact on this world. 

7. Be Supported

Never taught? Never tutored? No problem. Literacy Pittsburgh trains all volunteers through a free online training program. Dedicated staff guides volunteers through questions, feedback, and additional learning opportunities. Nervous about the workload? Tutors have access to lesson plan ideas and teaching tips. A tutoring newsletter and technology advice are provided to support a virtual learning environment.

8. Be Appreciated

Students continuously express their gratitude for the time, encouragement and knowledge volunteers share. For some students, you may be the first person who believed in their ability to succeed. The time, encouragement, and knowledge shared makes a world of difference.

9. Reduce Negative Feelings

Studies show that volunteering can reduce stress, anger, anxiety, and depression.

10. Build Relationships

Build bonds with your students, tutors, and Literacy Pittsburgh staff. Sustained interaction with students helps develop a unique bond that can build into lifelong friendships.

Ready to volunteer? Here are some key requirements and information:

Volunteers are expected to teach students twice a week forat least six months. All volunteers must have or be working toward a four-year degree. All tutoring currently takes place online due to Covid-19. Volunteers must attend nine hours of free training, also offered online.  

Request a tutoring application online to get started changing lives today!

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Katherine Lewis

A Virginia native, Katherine moved to Pittsburgh in 2016 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. After earning her B.A. in Media and Professional Communications in December 2019, Katherine began working as a Marketing Intern and Public Relations for two different Pittsburgh-based organizations. She loves to travel, read ( big Carnegie Library fan), and explore Pittsburgh during her free time! All while fueled by an unnecessary amount of caffeine, of course.

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