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About Us

Our Mission

Literacy for Life empowers adults by building foundational skills for success in life and work.

Learn more and read our
Vision, Goals & Values >

Joanne Pollard at NEDP Graduation Aug 20

Our Impact


Literacy for Life provides valuable services to the greater Williamsburg community in so many meaningful ways. As an independent 501(c)3 organization, Literacy for Life has been working for over 45 years to provide literacy services to help community members function more effectively.

We're the only organization in Williamsburg that provides individualized, one-to-one and small group tutoring for adults in reading, writing and math skills as well as instruction in English for speakers of other languages.

We also support learners pursuing high school completion through the General Educational Development (GED) Test. Literacy for Life’s offsite program provides classes taught by professional instructors with tutor support at area businesses, nonprofit agencies, and public schools.

​Literacy for Life has helped people with numerous individual goals, including studying for and passing the U.S. citizenship exam, obtaining a better job, learning to manage family finances, passing a driver’s license test, effectively communicating with medical professionals, and helping a child with homework.

Our History

In 1975, the president and faculty members of the College of William & Mary as well as concerned citizens recognized the urgent need for an adult literacy program to develop reading and writing skills for College employees. Originally called the Adult Skills Program, Literacy for Life was born, and four years later, it became a United Way agency and opened the program to adult learners in the surrounding community.


Rita Varnes Welsh, a graduate student in the School of Education, became the program’s first director, a position she held until her untimely death in 1981. In 2008, Literacy for Life expanded its services by offering offsite classes in partnership with local businesses and area nonprofit agencies. Today, the program serves approximately 600 community members each year, enabling them to help achieve their goals and fully participate in the community and society.

4A ASP Awards Ceremony 1980.jpg
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