Mission / History

Empowering adults through literacy for more than 60 years.

Our Mission

Changing lives and communities through the power of adult literacy.

Our Vision

ProLiteracy envisions a world where adults who want to increase their literacy, numeracy, language, and education skills have access to the help and resources they need.

ProLiteracy commits to making diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism a priority in our organization. To learn more about how ProLiteracy plans to take action, click here.

Our History

In 2002, Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, two of the world’s oldest and largest adult literacy organizations, merged to create ProLiteracy. The merger created more educational opportunities for adult learners through an expanded national network and new international initiatives.

Defining Moments in our legacy

Laubach Literacy International was founded to promote global literacy

In 1930, Dr. Frank C. Laubach was a missionary among the Maranao people of the Philippines. Concerned about their poor living conditions, he realized the ability to read and write was essential for them to begin solving their problems. From 1935 to 1967, Dr. Laubach took his adult literacy work to 105 countries—creating reading lessons in 315 languages. He founded Laubach Literacy International in 1955. In 1963, his son, Dr. Robert Laubach, started New Readers Press, which became part of Laubach Literacy in 1967. New Readers Press is now a leading resource for adult literacy materials with more than 400 titles available for adult learners and teachers, including the nation’s oldest news source written in plain English, News for You.

Literacy Volunteers of America tackles the U.S. crisis

Interested in global literacy, Ruth J. Colvin had heard Dr. Frank Laubach speak about illiteracy in faraway countries throughout the 1950s. But, it wasn’t until 1961, when she read a Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper article stating that more than 11,000 people in Syracuse, N.Y., couldn’t read or write well (based on 1960 U.S. Census figures), that she realized there was a literacy problem in the U.S. After speaking with local social service agencies, community leaders, and church groups about the problem, she worked with reading experts to develop a means to train volunteers to tutor adults. In 1962, she started Literacy Volunteers of America in her basement.