With estimates that Maricopa County’s illiteracy rate is over half a million adults, the work of Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County is as important today as it was when launched nearly four decades ago.
That first year, only 50 “clients” sought help from the fledgling organization, but today that number has grown tremendously. Nearly 2,000 adults have taken advantage of the group’s free reading, math, GED preparation and English classes, according to its website.
As the organization’s Facebook page says, about one in five high-school graduates earn their diplomas through the GED program, which is “one way for high-school dropouts to potentially earn more money” and earn qualifications to seek training for higher-paying jobs.
The testimonial of one client, Maria Nunez, says: “One of my children has reached an honor roll of 4.0 in school. I believe it is because of my support. My goal is to go to college when I get my GED.”
Since 1982, the group has expanded, now offering distance learning that raises participants by an average of two grade levels. Besides a staff of eight, the organization multiplies its efforts through dozens of volunteers, who must be over the age of 18, commit four hours each week and have attained a 12th-grade reading proficiency.