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News & Updates for April 2017

newsThis month:

Volunteer Appreciation Month

Sending some love to all our fabulous volunteers

volunteer appreciation

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and we want you all to feel ESPECIALLY appreciated during April!

One thing we want to do during April is put a face on our volunteer corps. At least 300 of you help us out every year and that's incredible! We want to show your smiling faces and help you get to know each other a little more. So expect a photographer in your class some time in April! (If you don't want to be surprised by our roving photographer, we'd love for you to send us a photo of you that you prefer - send your pics to Maxine).

We'll also be launching a new online way for you to spend time together, share ideas and lesson plans, and get answers to questions. Stay tuned for more about the Literacy Advance Tutor Support Group, coming soon to Facebook!

And Bay Area volunteers - something special just for you! On Wednesday, April 26, please come by the Bay Area Service Center between the hours of 11am and 2pm. We hope to see you at this annual Volunteer Appreciation Event! This year's theme is Hollywood Superstars. Talk to Enedina or Eleanor if you have questions.

THANK YOU, volunteers! We can say thank you so many different ways and it's never enough to express all the gratitude we feel. You truly do light the way to a brighter future for your learners and we are so very grateful for your gifts of time, talent, and treasure. You are appreciated!

Scrabble in the City

Get your team on!

scrabble logoWe're down to the final weeks and teams are selling fast. You can check our team countdown on the Scrabble in the City page to see how many are left; it's not many, and we don't want you to miss out! Register your team now!

AND - here's a way you can join in even if you can't attend the event. We'll be having a raffle at Scrabble in the City and you do NOT have to be present to win. That means you can support the event by buying a ticket (or 6; see below) and you can walk away with the grand prize even if you're out of town that day!

Raffle tickets are 1 for $20 or 6 for $100.
Ask any member of the Literacy Advance staff how to buy your tickets.

Raffle prize: Three-night stay (Thursday – Sunday) at Frost Creek in Vail Valley, Colorado. Luxury three-bedroom cabin accommodations for up to 6 people, PLUS $500 airfare voucher to help you get there!

Remember - this is NOT your grandmother's Scrabble.

scrabble montage

Student Success Stories

Why do we ask our volunteers to tell us stories?

storyYou already know how important stories are at Literacy Advance. It's through stories that the successes of our students really come to life, and their achievements really shine. Wherever you turn at Literacy Advance, there's a story! We tell them at Story Time tours (the name sort of gives that away), in our newsletters, to our donors and funders, and to you, our volunteers, with a heart-warming Student Success Spotlight every month.

But we can't tell all these wonderful stories without you! If you're a volunteer tutor, you'll know that your Reflection Journal periodically asks you to note a success story about one of the students in your class. Please take the time to tell us a story - you see your students so regularly, and hear things we don't, so we rely on you to give us the good news!

These don't have to be the traditional "big" successes, like someone achieving citizenship or getting a new job (though of course these are fabulous too). We're interested in all sorts of achievements. And your story doesn't have to be polished! We'll come and ask you for more details if we need to. But just start the ball rolling and tell us a story! We'll be forever grateful.

PS: Look out for your next Between the Lines newsletter, the first for 2017, coming to your mailbox later this month. You'll see yet more stories, some in the students' own words. We can't wait to share all these successes with you!

Tax Deductions for Volunteers

Are you eligible for any deductions due to your volunteering?

taxes scrabble tilesQuite possibly you are!
Many volunteers at registered non-profits can claim deductions for things such as travel expenses. To read more about what you can claim, read this article or talk to a tax professional.

Office closings and tutor absences

Plan now for Easter, Memorial Day, and other absences!

closed signA reminder to all tutors that Literacy Advance will be CLOSED for Memorial Day on Saturday, May 27 and Monday, May 29.

Please tell your students - we'll tell them too, but the more reminders, the better!

If you have a planned absence for any time the office is NOT closed, PLEASE remember to contact your coordinator ahead of time! We can usually cover tutor absences, with enough advance notice, but we need you to communicate with us. Thank you for your help with this!

Special Volunteer Tutor Request

We're looking for new substitute tutors

helpIt happens pretty regularly - a tutor needs to be away for a lesson or two unexpectedly, and really doesn't want to disrupt the learning of their class. Whenever possible, we organize a substitute to cover the class in these cases.

We need more people willing to be subs! Here's how it works:

  • A volunteer tutor hands in a subs request form (please help us out with at least a week's notice, or ideally more);
  • We contact people on our substitute list with the date and time of the class that needs to be covered;
  • Subs on the list who can't cover it, tell us so; hopefully we find someone who can cover;
  • Once a match is made, the substitute tutor goes to class on the specified day and at the specified time, and uses the work left to lead the class for that 2-hour or 3-hour lesson.

Substitutes can be on the list but only say YES to some requests! There are no expectations that you cover every lesson you're asked about. But the longer the list, the more likely we can find a match.

Please consider being on the subs list!
Contact Heather if this is something you could do.

NOTE: We need the majority of our subs at Wilcrest, but also need them at Outreach locations and at Bay Area. If you're willing to be a substitute at a location OTHER than Wilcrest, please let Heather know.

Theme of the Month: banking

Waiting Class lesson plans, and more

bankingBased on direct and consistent student feedback, we've created a Theme of the Month calendar, tied to the life skills students say they want to learn. There's a different theme each month, complete with a list of (and links to) materials and activities that tutors can use to help get students talking and interacting more.

APRIL = banking

April’s theme of the month is banking. There are many ways you can help students learn critical skills about banking and managing their money.

Do you know about the Information Center in the Wilcrest lobby? The pillar in the coffee area currently contains MoneyWI$E’s financial literacy pamphlets that include relevant topics with exercises such as identifying needs vs. wants, balancing a checkbook, and using credit cards, to name just a few. To find out more and get online resources, visit or email

This information is available for Bay Area, Waller, and Outreach tutors too! Speak to your Program Manager (Enedina or Khushboo), or with Diana, the Literacy Advance Transition Coach. 

If you want a book to help with multiple lessons, come to the Wilcrest Resource Room and ask about the Family Focused Finances. These short, easy-to-use units provide skill-building activities for identifying priorities, managing your resources, establishing a bank account, being clever with credit, and planning ahead.

Top Tutor Tips

A monthly focus on best practices

abe & esl

Did you know that students can attend supplemental classes while they're in a regular class with you?

Known as "Special Classes" to the students, to differentiate them from their regular class, these supplemental classes are short, topic-specific classes, like:

  • Learning how to use a computer
  • Improving conversation skills
  • Communication at work (DVD-based course)
  • Resume-writing and interview skills
  • Much more!

There are new topics all the time so remind your students to check what's coming up! Wilcrest students can check on the Programs Office Door; students at all sites can check our website.

Students must register for each class they want to attend.


And don't forget - we have regular workshops, training, and roundtable sessions to help tutors continue learning best practices and sharing ideas with one another. Find upcoming sessions here.

Literacy Advance History Book

Celebrating 50 Years of Literacy...

history bookLiteracy Advance celebrated its 50th birthday in 2014 and we're still celebrating! We hope you've already read some of the 50 years of stories that got us to where we are today; if not, find the book here or click on the image to the left.

Current Volunteer Needs


There's more to do than tutoring! We have ongoing needs for Family Literacy volunteers, front desk helpers, and other assistance, and we're looking for Scrabble volunteers...

Current volunteer needs are here.

Volunteer Events

Tutor Enrichment, Volunteer Socials, and more!

Find out all information on our Volunteer Events page! For changes and updates throughout the month, remember to check our Calendar, or our Facebook Events tab.

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