Our Impact

Literacy Network helps adults in Dane County build skills, reach goals, and connect communities.

The Community We Serve

Here in Dane County, more than 55,000 adults struggle with low literacy -- enough to fill more than three Kohl Centers.

Poverty and illiteracy are closely linked. Adult literacy education leads to long-term improvements in the lives of learners and their families.

Benefits of improved literacy include:

  • self-esteem and quality of life
  • better health
  • greater adaptability to a changing world
  • improved economy
  • greater gender equality
  • democracy and peace

Literacy Network helps adults:

  • improve their job situation
  • communicate better with their children’s schools
  • gain their US Citizenship
  • obtain their high school equivalency degree
  • take the next step to college and other certifications
  • learn the basic reading, writing and English language skills that many of us take for granted


Citizenship Program

Literacy Network offers English for Citizenship classes for legal permanent residents living in Dane County. Meeting twice weekly, these classes cover the U.S. civics and language skills necessary to pass the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization interview and test. Once students in the group class successfully complete a semester of class and submit their application for naturalization to USCIS, they can be matched with a personal tutor for additional practice leading up to their interview. Students in Literacy Network’s programs seek citizenship for many reasons, including to enhance their work opportunities, receive federal benefits such as financial aid for college, and become more involved in civic life.

Are you a legal permanent resident interested in becoming a U.S. citizen? See our class schedule for more details. You can also find information and resources about legal services and application assistance for citizenship from our partners at the Catholic Multicultural Center and Centro Hispano.

Community English Program

Community English classes provided ESL instruction to 500 adults in 2023 so that they could engage in their family’s education, advocate for their family’s needs, and participate in their local communities. Currently, 11 multi-level classes are supported by 10 school, library, and community center partners throughout Dane County. Curriculum topics are based on students’ goals and often include conversation, calling a child in sick, and scheduling appointments.

Community Literacy ESL Tutoring Program

Community Literacy is one of Literacy Network’s signature English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring programs. Meeting on a weekly basis with their own tutor, adult learners in this program come to Literacy Network with a variety of skills and goals. Personalized lessons allow students to work on concrete tasks with their tutor like creating a resume, learning English to have a parent-teacher conference, or understanding directions at work. Students learn at their own pace and practice skills they can use right away in the community and at work.

Multiple classes of Community Literacy, involving over 100 tutoring pairs, are managed by dedicated interns responsible for coordinating the class and writing individualized lessons for each learner based on their personal goals and level. In addition to classes held at Literacy Network’s learning center, classes take place across Dane County, such as at the Lussier Community Education Center and the Vera Court Neighborhood Center.

Essential Tutoring

Essentials (skills for computers and literacy for employment) is a program for adults, usually native English speakers, who would like to build their reading, writing, math, and basic computer skills. In the Essential Program, students work one on one with a tutor in a classroom setting once a week toward a variety of goals. Oftentimes, learners’ goals are to strengthen computer skills for employment, hone study and reading skills for further education, or generally achieve independence and self-sufficiency.

Classes are held at Lakeview Library and East Madison Community Center, as well as Literacy Network’s own learning center.

GED/HSED Tutoring

We train and match tutors with adults in the Madison community who want to achieve their GED or HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma). We know the traditional classroom format is not for everyone, so we offer a one-on-one approach to meet each student’s specific needs – we have seen many students thrive working with a tutor! We also train and place tutors in Madison College’s GED/HSED Program.

Students come to us seeking their high school credential for many reasons, including preparing for higher education, improving their career outlook, and proving to themselves and their loved ones that they can achieve this.

Many of our volunteer tutors are math experts and can help GED candidates conquer this challenging exam! If you or someone you know wants to start or finish their GED/HSED, give us a call at (609) 244-3911 and ask for Marie K.

Public Group ESL Classes

Literacy Network’s public group English as a Second Language classes serve adults with a wide range of English skills, from those with no familiarity at all to those whose command of English can be applied to most everyday situations. Taught in a group immersion setting in order to reach students of all language backgrounds, classes in this program are meant for real-world application. They often center on language and skills needed for involvement in the community and at work.

Literacy Network is a proud partner of the United Way of Dane County, and our public group ESL classes are part of the HIRE Education/Employment Initiative, which aims to help Dane County adults find fulfilling employment or work toward high school equivalency diplomas. We offer multiple sections of these classes every semester, with daytime and evening options – they always fill up quickly!

Refugee ESL Classes

In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Wisconsin Literacy, and Jewish Social Services, Literacy Network offers English classes for newly-arrived and resettled refugees. Working with refugee populations from across the world, our program assists refugees in learning the English language skills and cultural information needed to navigate life in the United States and be successful in their employment, community life, education, and civic engagement. We also provided ongoing educational support and referrals to internal and external programs as needed.

For further information on refugees in Wisconsin, please see more from our partners at the Department of Children and Families.


Transitions provides personalized support, education, and career advising to help adults succeed at Madison College. The program supports higher-level English Language Learners by providing rigorous English language, literacy, critical thinking and academic skill development. Participants receive personalized advising services to create a plan and identify resources to reach their educational and career goals.

Workplace English

Workplace English classes offer customized on-site English language instruction to support employees’ communication on the job. The curriculum is tailored to meet an employer’s specific goals. It’s an investment in increasing safety, productivity, performance, and morale.

In the past 15 years, Literacy Network has collaborated with employers throughout Dane County in:

  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • hospitality
  • cleaning services
  • food service industries

Three Literacy Network partners have received the Wisconsin Literacy statewide award for Outstanding Workplace Literacy Programs: North Central Group (2018), Future Foam (2014), and UW Hospital (2007).

You can read more about how onsite Workplace English classes could benefit your company here. Please contact Bex Fabrizio at bex@litnetwork.org or (608) 268-6425 with interest or questions.

Meeting Individual Needs

We believe setting individual goals and focusing on those goals is essential to promoting adult learners' long-term success.

Last year, students in Literacy Network programs increased the time they spent studying with us by an average of 10 hours.

Most adults must study at least 100 hours to increase a level of literacy. Increasing class time and making sure all that time is relevant is key to promoting student success.

Interested in learning more?


Our partnerships are vital to our work.

We proudly partner with numerous funders, including the Rennebohm Foundation, Evjue Foundation, United Way of Dane County, the City of Madison, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Wisconsin Technical College System, Madison Community Foundation, Goodman Foundation, and many others.

Our programs are hosted at numerous schools, libraries, community centers and partner agencies.

Volunteers and Donors

Each year, volunteers double our impact. Their contribution has a value of more than $600,000 annually.

Hundreds of volunteers give their time and skills to adult learners. Volunteer tutors support personalized learning experiences, plan outreach and fundraising events, and play a vital role in our day-to-day operations.

Hundreds of individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies support adult learners each year.

Through the combined efforts of volunteers and donors, adult learners have support of nearly $2 million each year.

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