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Volunteer With United for Literacy

Feb. 13 2023

Volunteers are at the centre of our literacy and learning programs. Each year, over 1,500 volunteers give thousands of hours to support children, youth, and adults. They tutor math, reading, and writing; read stories; help with special events; and more.

Read on for more information about becoming a tutor or program volunteer. Scroll down to find out about volunteering with our special events and other opportunities.

Becoming a volunteer tutor or program volunteer

One of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a volunteer tutor is: Do I need teaching experience to be a tutor with United for Literacy? The answer is no, you don’t have to be a teacher to be a volunteer tutor. We will provide screening, training, and support throughout your time with us, including:
  • An interview to ensure that the volunteer position is the best fit for you 
  • An orientation and comprehensive initial training with supplementary training opportunities if required
  • Ongoing support of a staff member or volunteer leader  
  • Chances to network within your community, gain valuable employment skills, and more.

We are looking for people who are:

  • Comfortable with working with a variety of people and experiences
  • Confident speaking English or French—and other languages are a definite asset • Enthusiastic, flexible, and creative
  • Over 14 years old
  • Living in Canada
Most United for Literacy volunteers work in person with a literacy program in their own community. In most locations, these volunteers—Program Volunteers—can choose to work with children or adults. Some roles for Program Volunteers include:
  • tutoring kids, providing math, reading, and other homework help, and reading books out loud.
  • supporting adults as they learn how to use computers, gain workplace literacy and essential skills, and find out new methods for helping their children read and learn.
  • participating in conversation circles with and teaching English or French as a Learned Language to newcomers who want to improve their speaking and writing skills.
  • working with adults with developmental disabilities on literacy and basic skills
  • providing homework, learning, and GED support to high school-age learners.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have moved many programs online. One of the benefits of online tutoring is the flexibility it allows. For example, a tutor in Halifax can now work with a learner in Iqaluit. There are lots of opportunities for online volunteers.

Whether online or in person, Program Volunteers take part in planning, coordination, delivery, and evaluation. It’s a great way to learn new skills and share your knowledge with others.

United for Literacy programs vary from place to place, so get in touch with your regional office or complete the Volunteer Inquiry Form for more information and to discuss available positions and the time commitment required. You will receive a response to your inquiry, so please add United for Literacy to your Safe Senders list.

Special Events Volunteers

Throughout the year, United for Literacy hosts events to raise funds and awareness of the importance of literacy in Canada, including Scrabble for Literacy, the Giller Light Bash, and the National Forum, which looks at the connection between literacy and other important issues (past topics include Literacy and Mental Health and Literacy and The Economy).

We need both in-person volunteers and committee members to help with planning, prize procurement, research, marketing, and administrative work to make these events successful. These roles can often be done remotely from any location. Volunteering for a United for Literacy event can help you build skills—including fundraising, research, marketing, communication, digital, and organization skills, to name a few—and meet interesting people who want to make a difference in the world.

The time commitment for event volunteers varies from event to event. For more information about how to become an events volunteer, please contact Jennifer Chow, and find out more on our events page.

Other Volunteering Opportunities

We occasionally have other volunteer opportunities online or at locations across Canada. These opportunities may include office or administrative tasks such as prospecting and researching new donors and supporters, organizing files, and support with campaigns or special projects. For more information about available opportunities in your area, please contact Joanne Huffa. Take a look at the volunteer page to get started.

All volunteers must adhere to the  Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities Act.   

A group of literacy volunteers outside
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