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Vision     Mission     Theoretical Foundation    Goals     People     Location

We build skilled, passionate, habitual,
critical readers, writers, and mathematicians!
(Find out more about how to join us as an Adult Learner.)

The Literacy Action Center, a community-based private nonprofit corporation, was established by June Moss, a lay minister at the First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1984 and received 501(c)(3) status in February 1985. As the need for literacy instruction grew beyond the churchís surrounding area, our boundaries expanded to include all of Salt Lake County, Utah. In 1995, Davis Countyís Project Read was dissolved and this county was added to our jurisdiction.

We teach functionally-illiterate, English-speaking adults to read, write, and calculate. The population of adults we serve enter our doors with less than fifth grade level in one or more of these areas. There are over 60,000 of these adults who qualify for our services in Salt Lake County, Utah, and over 10,000 in Davis County, Utah.

The Literacy Action Center, however, is the ONLY adult literacy organization focusing on functionally-illiterate, English-speaking adults in either county. We are not an English-as-a-Second-Language program. Many other organizations and school districts in both counties teach these adults to speak English. No one else serves the adults we serve.

In addition to providing small group instruction, we educate volunteers to work one-on-one with these adults. Find out more about Volunteer Opportunities.


The Literacy Action Center envisions a world of literate adults. These adults use literacy skills and abilities to participate actively in all contexts of their lives, as family members, workers, and community participants as well as to further their personal development.


We teach adults to read! We teach English-speaking adults, with low-level reading, writing, or math skills, to become skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers, writers, and mathematicians! This effective and confidential literacy education, delivered through professional staff and trained volunteers, gives these adults the tools for interpreting and communicating with print. The goal of this instruction is to engage adult learners in developing literate behaviors, assisting these learners in accomplishing literacy-related goals, and facilitating changes in the quality of these adultsí lives.

Theoretical Foundation

Literacy Action Centerís instructional practices are built upon a solid foundation of theory and research. The theoretical constructs underlying our effective practices are derived from the humanistic and cognitive paradigms of learning. The humanistic paradigm places the control of learning in the hands of the adult learners, recognizing that human nature, potential, and emotions play a part in learning. The cognitive paradigm features such instructional practices as modeling, explicit explanations, guided practice, and multiple opportunities to apply knowledge. Adult learnersí are guided to become skillful at monitoring and applying declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge. Using this learner-centered approach in a nurturing, encouraging environment allows adult learners to flourish, as they have input into the content of what they are learning and how they will go about the process of learning.

Several principles emerge from these two paradigms. These principles form the foundation of instructional practices and educational progress at Literacy Action Center. These principles guide our interactions and the delivery of instruction-related methods, materials, and support:

     Education empowers all people.
     Adults accepted into our program can learn.
     Adults are responsible for their learning.
     Instruction is a cooperative venture among the adult learner, tutor, and our professional staff.
     Learning is a dynamic interaction among the learner, what is to be learned, and the context of the
        learning situation.
     Instructional strategies and materials are based upon an individualís needs and goals.
     Instruction fosters success from the beginning.
     New learning is based upon previous learning.
     Instruction fosters the transfer of literate behaviors through the use of authentic, real-life materials and
     Learning is scaffolded through appropriate modeling, direct explanations, guided practice, and application
     The practice of literate behaviors outside of instruction increases learning gains.
     Assessment is an ongoing process. (Soifer et al, 1990)

How do these principles influence instructional practices at the Literacy Action Center? First, this means that Literacy Action Center promotes a learner-centered curriculum that uses content, activities, and materials that best support each learnerís needs, interests, goals, and competencies. Second, Literacy Action Centerís tutors emphasize reflection and awareness of strategic literate behaviors, thus encouraging them to monitor their understandings of print. Third, Literacy Action Center supports the use of authentic and meaningful materials and activities.


The Literacy Action Center strives to meet the following goals:
  Successfully teach 200+ English-speaking adults annually to read, write, and do math
  Train 50 new community volunteers annually to maintain an annual match of 150 active adult learner
      and tutor pairs
  Recruit and retain an active 20-member Board of Trustees
  Gain recognition as the place to seek literacy-related answers
  Raise $250,000 annually, gaining a stable, ongoing funding base


Four groups of people keep the Literacy Action Center alive and well: adult learners, professional educators, community volunteers, and donors. Members of these groups are not exclusive. Donors, for instance, can be members of any of the other groups. Learners can also be volunteers and donors. Below is a list of some of the individuals who currently serve in leadership positions in our organization.

 Executive Director

 Deborah Young, Ed.D.
Dr. Deborah Young is the executive director and learning specialist for the Literacy Action Center. Dr. Young educates and supervises professional staff and community volunteers to work in small groups and one-on-one with our learners, oversees curriculum development and delivery, screens all incoming learners, and teaches. She organizes and oversees all fund development, marketing strategies, and administrative activities.
Dr. Young has a BS in reading and special education from the University of Maine at Farmington, a MA in literacy and learning disabilities from Eastern Michigan University, and a Ed.D. in learning, literacy, and technology from the University of Michigan. She is co-author of The Complete Theory-to-Practice of Adult Literacy: Curriculum Design and Teaching Approaches (1990), Teachersí College Press, New York. Her teaching experiences include: manufacturing plants, reading clinics, prison halfway houses, university settings, and preschool-12. Dr. Young started with the Literacy Action Center in 1996 as a member of the Board of Trustees.

 Board of Trustees

Susan Fine, President (1/07)
Charles Curtin, Secretary (11/11)
Margaret Griffin, Treasurer
Elissa Russo
Glenda Cotter
Deborah Young, Ed.D., Executive Director


Literacy Action Center has only one physical location, and we cover both Salt Lake and Davis Counties from this location. Our office (and classroom space) is located at 3595 S Main Street. Our name is on the sign next to the street but not on the building. The name on the building is Salt Lake Housing Authority of Salt Lake County. We are located in the basement of the Salt Lake County Housing Authority building.

Most of our small group instruction and tutor training workshops are held in our classroom space at 3595 S Main Street. While some one-on-one tutoring also takes place at our office, most of our tutoring is done in the Davis County, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and Murray library systems.


Literacy Action Center - 3595 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115-4434
Phone: (801) 265-9081 Fax: (801) 265-9643  E-mail:

No person shall be denied services because of race, religion, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.