Literacy Council of Seattle

  • WA


8500 14th Avenue NW
United States

About Us


Since 1969, the Literacy Council of Seattle has offered free English language instruction foradult beginning English speakers in the Seattle area. Adults who perform at less than a fourth-grade proficiency level in English are almost ten times more likely to live below thepoverty line. To address this problem, the Literacy Council offers free tutoring and classes at locations near students’ homes using books from our Literacy Council lending library.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to empower diverse adult learners to be successful in their jobs, families and community by teaching them essential English literacy skills through student-centered instruction.


English as a Second Language (ESL): The Literacy Council offers free English classes and tutoring for immigrants and refugees. According to the 2010 US Census, over 20% of Seattle residents speak a language other than English at home; almost 49% of those say that they do not speak English well. 2008 American Community Survey data states that 5% of Seattle residents do not speak English well or at all. Without basic English skills, it is almost impossible to find employment and provide for a family’s basic needs.

Adult Basic Education (ABE): The Literacy Council provides free tutoring to native-born English speakers whose lack of functional literacy creates tremendous economic and social hardships.

Tutor Training Workshops: The Literacy Council provides ongoing training workshops to community members, educating and empowering them to provide literacy services to students

While the Literacy Council is a primarily all volunteer grassroots organization, we have experienced rapid growth over the past decade in response to increased demand for our services. Five years ago, LCS served 200 students on average; now we serve 300-441 students each year. Two years ago, LCS offered five beginning English classes each quarter; now we offer ten. Last year, we provided services to a record 441 individuals.

The Literacy Council partners with the Seattle Public Library, community centers and transitional/low-income housing facilities managed by other local nonprofit organizations to offer classes in Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, North Seattle and downtown. All of our spring classes are currently full.

2004-2005 enrollment records from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges show that only 12.2% of individuals who could benefit from English language instruction receive it, and the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that one in ten adults over 16 years old lack basic English literacy skills. In spite of our organization’s rapid growth over the past five years, the number of other nonprofit organizations, transitional housing facilities and individuals who come to LCS seeking our services continue to outpace our resources.