In response to the demands of daily living and the challenges of the technological workplace, the Dominican Adult Literacy Center provides free one-to-one tutoring in reading, writing, math and basic computer, through the services of certified volunteers who tutor adults ranging in age from 18 to 80 years.
The concept of the Dominican Literacy Center, a site on the East Side of Detroit, originated in March 1988, through a proposal made by Sister Marie Schoenlein. The Center’s program was designed to serve the adults who are in need of functional literacy. It responds to this need with tutoring offered to a population in an area labeled by the census as one of the “poorest Congressional District in the United States.” Thus, the well-publicized statistics, at that time, that “1 out of 5 Americans cannot read” was even higher in this section of Detroit.
Following the 1988 proposal and several months of hard work and in kind service, space in the Dominican Complex was prepared for instructional use. The Center provides an atmosphere that offers privacy for students as well as space for tutor training. The program began with 12 retired women who felt honored to be tutoring the uneducated adult learners. The 2000 roster of tutors has grown to more than 150 certified volunteers assisting some 2000 adults, who mutually combine to form 250 weekly scheduled tutor/learner matches.
The Dominican literacy Center (DLC) has never been a lone effort, but rather a collaborative Literacy Project (CLP) that calls forth adult learners, tutors, coordinators, volunteers, programming, facility and funding – all working together. This collaborative effort is the response of a community in mission bonding with a common purpose and addressing the critical societal need of educating adults. Consequently, during the 1988 to 2000 calendar years, nearly 800 certified volunteers have tutored 1800 adults.
The establishment of the DLC was the first of its kind in the tri-county area of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. The Center acted quickly to become Laubach certified, to offer complete flexible scheduling, tutor training and in-service updates, and to be informed in the latest methods, materials, and equipment that is available in the effort to address the serious needs facing their students. With this in mind, networked computer now provide computer skills and reinforcement, and in July 1994, after its incorporation, the DLC became an AmeriCorp VISTA site. DLC has also assisted in the foundation of Centers in Detroit; Columbus, Ohio; Newburgh, New York; West Palm Beach, Florida; Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington.