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We Do

The Washington Literacy Center(WLC) has been helping DC residents with the greatest barriers and fewest resources learn to read since 1963. The WLC has grown into a dynamic nonprofit with full-time staff, professionally-trained instructors, and passionate volunteers starting as an all-volunteer initiative. 


For approximately 119,000 DC adults, low literacy skills are a stumbling block to just about everything. These hurdles include: 

  • Completing their education,  

  • Getting and keeping a decent job  

  • Staying out of poverty 

The Washington Literacy Center removes these obstacles by teaching: 

  1. Alphabetics (Phonemic Awareness) – The ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words. 

  2. Phonics – The relationship between the letters (graphemes) of written and spoken languages, and individual sounds (phonemes). Phonics instruction teaches learners to use these relationships to use and write words. 

  3. Fluency – The ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they identify words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain sense from what they read. They read aloud easier and with expression. Fluency is essential because it provides a link between word recognition and comprehension. 

  4. Vocabulary – Learning the words we need to communicate effectively. An increased vocabulary helps reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are reading without knowing what the words mean.  

  5. Comprehension – The reason for reading. If readers can read the words but do not understand what they are reading, they are not actually reading. Effective readers are both purposeful (they have a reason to read) and active (they think to make sense of what they read). 


We also have evolved to meet the demands of the 21st century by teaching math for everyday use, computer literacy, workforce skills, occupational literacy, and integrated instruction. We prepare our students for better jobs, continued education, and real opportunities by providing them with hands-on learning opportunities. 


We can only make a difference with your help. Your support changes lives. 

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This program offers participants a boot camp experience to help obtain certifications and create educational and employment goals. Participants will engage in the following activities: 


  • Interest assessment 

  • Skills-matching Exercises 

  • "Multiple Intelligences" identification 

  • Career exploration clusters 

  • Occupational seminars with industry professionals 

  • Resumé and interviewing workshops 

  • Certification Attainment 

  • OSHA 10 

  • CPR/First Aid 

  • ServSafe Foodhandlers 

  • Northstar Digital Literacy 

(6-week course – Meets daily) 

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Learn what reading teachers know to equip yourself and your child with the tools to develop as readers. Participating parents learn strategies, tips, and activities to help improve their child's reading, comprehension, and language skills. Classes involve: 


  • Topics of interest to parents with school-age children 

  • Phonics activities 

  • Reading games 

  • Activities to help you read with your child regularly 

  • Study children's book authors 

  • Identifying books that your child wants to read 


(12-weeks course – Meets two days per week) 


General adult basic and intermediate reading literacy classes that assist the learner with sentence construction, grammar, vocabulary, reading strategies, and more: 


  • CASAS reading-level assessments 

  • Decoding unfamiliar words 

  • Increased vocabulary 

  • Development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print 

  • Development and maintenance of a motivation to read 

  • Supports ESL/ABE students 


(10-week course – Meets three days per week) 


A hybrid learning experience to improve introductory computer and digital skills. Topics include: 


  • How to navigate the digital world 

  • Google & Microsoft tools for the workplace 

  • Workplace email etiquette 

  • Navigate virtual platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams 

  • Calendar Basics – Learn how to schedule meetings and events 

  • Access your notes and tasks 

  • How to access online information 

  • How to maintain a secure online presence 

  • NorthStar digital certifications 


(10-week course – Meets two days per week) 


This course promotes conceptual understanding to help adults succeed at home and the workplace. Topics and learning activities include: 


  • Deductive  and inductive mathematical reasoning 

  • Information Ordering 

  • Learning how to handle complex problem solving 

  • Improved critical-thinking skills 

  • Reading comprehension to solve problems 

  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly. 


(10-week course – Meets two days per week) 


Tap into your workplace literacy as you learn more about your strengths and barriers while setting goals to improve workplace readiness. 


  • Become self-empowered 

  • Learn positive decision-making skills 

  • Focus on skills and qualities that allow you to reach your goals 

  • Recognize self-sabotaging behaviors for employment 

  • Emotional awareness in the workplace 


(8-week course – Meets two days per week) 

The Washington Literacy Center relies on the support of our community. Make a donation today to help make reading a reality.


The space between illiteracy and literacy is dignity.

- Azar Nafisi

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