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Humboldt Literacy Project connects adults 18+ who wish to improve their reading and writing with adult volunteer tutors for free, confidential, one-on-one English language tutoring.

It takes a special person to be a volunteer literacy tutor. You'll need to be patient, persistent, and a little bit creative. But you don’t need a teaching credential or a specific kind of background to help someone in your community work toward their goals and improve their life. (However, some knowledge of social work and education is very helpful!) All kinds of life experience can make you a valuable English literacy tutor at Humboldt Literacy Project!

We work with all kinds of people. Most of our learners have very low writing and reading skills. A few are trying to improve their comprehension and composition at a high school or college level. Several are learning English as a second language on their way to other goals.

Most of our tutoring pairs meet for about 60-90 minutes, one or two times per week, at a time and location they have chosen together, studying with materials supplied by HLP. Some of our matches have been working together for several years.

1. To get started, complete our online volunteer tutor application here, and contact us to let us know it is submitted. We host orientations for new volunteer tutors every 2-3 months, currently on Zoom, and you will be invited to the next one.

Non-tutoring volunteers offering short term help at events or in the office, this is your application.

2. While you're waiting, check out the job description here, and review your rights, and your responsibilities, too. This is supposed to be fun!

3. Within a few weeks of orientation, most tutors are paired with a learner and provided some personally curated study materials for one-on-one studies at a schedule and pace the two set together. (Some circumstances can make it a longer wait for a match, and we will communicate with you if that is the case.)

4. The learning process can be slow and challenging, so we ask our tutors to consider their volunteer work at HLP a long term commitment. You don’t sign a contract, and you won’t be shamed if your life changes and you have to move on, but many of our tutors and learners have been studying happily together for years.

If you’re not ready to be a tutor but you like what we do, there are many other ways to support HLP.

We need non-tutoring volunteers to help us at our public events.

We are always recruiting experienced educators and performers to lead our Family Literacy Parties and our ESL events. This is paid work. Contact us if you would like to discuss details.

We also need donations of items we can sell at our fundraising auctions, and we need businesses (and individuals) to sponsor our events in exchange for copious glory and publicity and gratitude. 

We (gratefully!) decline most donations of used books, because our learners usually need specialized materials. If you have something you really believe will benefit our learners, go ahead and ask, but we could probably make better use of a gift certificate to New Readers Press or one of our many great local bookstores or office supply stores.

And of course, it takes board members and community advisors to help us do what we do, so we're always ready to welcome new faces at our monthly board meeting. Contact us if you'd like to talk about it.

Every contribution to Humboldt Literacy Project, financial or otherwise, directly supports our mission and our clients. We have been a 501(c)(3) nonprofit since 1985, and we exist because of the generous support of individuals, businesses, private foundations, and government grants.

This is a free service for the community. Learners never pay for the assistance they receive.

For more information, contact us at, or call (707)445-3655.

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