Frequently Asked Questions

> What is literacy?
The National Literacy Act defines literacy as: “an individual’s ability to read, write and speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

> What is Literacy Suffolk?
Literacy Suffolk, Inc., formerly Literacy Volunteers of America-Suffolk County, Inc. (LVA), is an affiliate of ProLiteracy America, an organization formed from the merger of LVA and Laubach Literacy in 2003. Literacy Suffolk is an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy America, an affiliate of Literacy New York, and and affiliate agency of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS).

> How long has Literacy Suffolk been in Suffolk County?
Founded by SCLS, Literacy Suffolk has been providing literacy services to Suffolk County adults since 1978.

> What programs does Literacy Suffolk offer?
Literacy Suffolk recruits and trains community volunteers to tutor Suffolk County adults in two areas: Basic Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The Basic Literacy program is geared towards adults who read and write below a sixth grade level. ESOL teaches conversational English to people whose native language is not English.

> What is the need?
The 2003 National Assesssment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) report (survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education) indicates that 43% (93 million) adult Americans have below average literacy skills. Another 44% (95 million) do not have the literacy skills required to fully function in society. Fourteen percent of Suffolk County adults (1 in 7) are at Below Basic literacy, meaning they have limited or no literacy skills. The current countywide student waiting list is approximately 500.

> What other services does Literacy Suffolk provide?
Literacy Suffolk provides Tutor Training Workshops to train volunteers to tutor adults. All program services connected with Literacy Suffolk are open to all adult residents of the county. Other services include support for trained tutors and learners via a Library Literacy Collection, “The Flame of Literacy,” (quarterly affiliate newsletter), other Literacy Suffolk publications and special events.

> How many tutors and learners does Literacy Suffolk serve?
Since its inception in 1978, Literacy Suffolk has served over 25,000 trained volunteers and adult learners. To see current program numbers visit the “Program Stats” page of this web site.

> Is there a fee involved?
All program services are free to adult learners. There is a $40 non-refundable processing fee for the tutor training workshop. (Previously trained literacy tutors are charged a non-refundable processing fee of $20 to take a refresher training.)

> How does someone become a student?
A Student Application can be downloaded and printed, then mailed to the administrative office in Bellport. Student applications are also available at your local public library where assistance with filling out the form is available if needed. (Applications are available in English, Spanish, Polish -when requested) The applicant will be contacted by a staff member when there is a tutor available. A Literacy Tester will then arrange to meet with the applicant for an interview and give an assessment. Most interviews and tutoring take place in a local library or other public place. Tutoring is student-centered, goal-oriented, adult sensitive, and completely confidential.

> How does someone become a tutor?
To become a certified Literacy Suffolk tutor, a volunteer must complete a 12-hour tutor training workshop. Workshops are offered in various libraries across Suffolk County. You may apply to the program by mailing or faxing a completed Tutor Application which will place you on our mailing list, or you can register for a workshop online or by printing and mailing the tutor application along with the Workshop Registration Form and fee. Tutor applications and workshop schedules are also available at your local public library. Become a volunteer

> I am a certified teacher. Do I still need to take the training?
Yes. All volunteer tutors must first take the 12-hour-long training course regardless of occupational or educational background. In fact, a large number of LS tutors are certified teachers. LS training techniques are designed specifically to address the learning needs and sensitivities of adult learners.

> What is expected of a trained tutor?
Once a volunteer has successfully completed the tutor training course, he/she is matched with a learner or small group of learners. Tutors are expected to contact their assigned learner(s) and make arrangements to meet at a public place, such as the local library, for tutoring sessions. Tutors are asked to meet once or twice weekly for a total of 2-3 hours of instruction per week and to commit to the program for at least one year.

> Can I be tutored in my home?
Tutors are never asked or expected to go to a student’s home for tutoring sessions. All tutoring must take place in a public place, such as the local library.

> Where is Literacy Suffolk located?
We are located in Bellport just north of Sunrise Highway at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System Building.

> How is Literacy Suffolk funded?
Literacy Suffolk is a non-profit agency funded, in part, by NY State Education, Suffolk County, Library Literacy Grants, other federal and state grants, the Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS), foundations, corporations, special events and individual donors. Space and considerable in-kind services are provided by SCLS.

> How else can I help?
There are many ways, apart from tutoring, that you can promote adult literacy. We offer a variety of other volunteer and support opportunities. Or you could help support adult literacy with your kind donation.