NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Literary Programs of New Jersey and Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey, two organizations that served the Middlesex County area, have partnered with Literacy New Jersey in February, in a merger that combined seven different groups all with the same goal: improving literacy in their communities.
The newly formed conglomerate of those seven groups, Literacy New Jersey (LNJ), is based in Metuchen and offers services in New Brunswick.
“We have a lot of need in New Brunswick has, so we’re looking for individuals to volunteer to be tutors, but also to be community leaders,” CEO Elizabeth Gloeggler told New Brunswick Today.
“The great part about New Brunswick is there’s a great resource of students and professors so that, when it all works together, we can really make an impact.”
However, a good portion of the city’s adults are “low literate.” Low literate adults are those who are either learning English for the first time, or who have spoken English their entire lives, but have a limited ability read or write.
Gloeggler says Literacy New Jersey’s volunteer tutors want to help people “whose goals range from keeping their jobs to getting better jobs, helping their kids in school, or even being able to read the back of a medicine bottle.”
The volunteers she mentioned are community members who undergo a minimum of 15 hours’ training—along with annual state-wide conference with additional training programs—so that they are qualified to teach and tutor English.
Services offered by LNJ include English as a Second Language classes, GED preparation, and one-on-one tutoring.
“We have tutoring happening all the time,” Gloeggler said, explaining that they strive to make sure students can meet with their tutors for a minimum of two hours a week, and that tutor sessions can occur any day of the week.
The most popular class in the past year has been the GED preparation, because the format of that test changed starting in January, sparking a need in the community to meet the new requirements.
Last year, Literacy New Jersey gave free services and lessons to approximately 8,000 students throughout the state.
This impressive statistic is also made possible through the company’s use of volunteer tutors as well as gala-style fundraisers, the next of which will occur in Spring 2015.
“We’re very, very successful at what we do, and we’re the only place people can turn to,” Gloeggler said.
Facilities such as New Brunswick’s Free Public Library also offer classes teaching English as a Second Language, but the efforts by LNJ to educate the populace go a long way toward improving the overall literacy of the community. Currently, approximately 17% of New Jersey adults are “low literate.”
The merger that occurred in February, and was augmented in June by the addition of two more organizations, was born from a desire to streamline the administrative efforts of all the groups involved in literacy work.
Rather than keeping nine different Boards of Directors, and maintaining nine seperate payrolls, the merged organization now only has to do that for one group, and can devote more time and energy to serving the community.
To get involved with Literacy New Jersey, contact Melissa Cohen, who leads the organization's Middlesex County branch at [email protected] or at (732) 432-8000.