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Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

Organization Mission

Education is the key to better jobs, successful children, strong communities and thriving democracy. The Literacy Program transforms the lives of local families by empowering adults to gain the basic literacy, math and education needed to succeed as workers, parents and community members.

We train and support local volunteer tutors and match them with neighbors who are motivated to improve their lives through education.

The Big Idea:
Stand for the American Dream

Most American families started with a dreamer who moved here and worked hard to make a better life for their family. Our volunteer tutors work with 200+ dreamers every year. They meet in homes, churches, work places and our office to give neighbors skills to succeed.

As one tutor put it: “ I was raised to believe in what the Statue of Liberty represents.”

We want to support immigrants and refugees by expanding services to support 60 families on our waiting list and double the number of our students we help to become citizens. Citizenship is essential to empower our neighbors to have a voice in the community they love, and the education we provide lasts far into the future: It lasts a lifetime.

By improving English, math and practical language skills, we empower local families to reach their goals of a better life. We show them that the American values of diversity, community and welcoming newcomers are strong here in Santa Cruz County. Our students, on average, learn faster than the California Adult Education Benchmarks because our all-volunteer tutors provide individual attention and content that is immediately useful in everyday life.

Education helps families out of poverty, improves their health, and builds individuals who contribute to our community as well as a thriving democracy. Strengthening our neighbors strengthens all of us.

The Literacy Program completely changed my life, and my family’s life. When we learn English, we recover ourselves and our dignity.


Esther T., Watsonville