Adult Literacy Center

Website: Would you like to read better? You are not alone. (

Mission: The Mission of the Adult Literacy Center is to improve literacy, resulting in enhanced self-esteem, daily living and lifelong learning. Utilizing volunteers and new technologies, we teach adults to read, write and comprehend.

Location: Des Moines (47 miles from Grinnell College)

Needs: Volunteer Literacy Coaches meet one to one (or on Zoom) with their assigned student once a week for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Coaching sessions can occur in study rooms on DMACC campuses or at any library or community center. These sessions are arranged in the Adult Literacy Center office to accommodate both Coach and Student.

The Adult Literacy Center also uses MindPlay, an online program that offers anywhere, anytime learning. The ALC student first completes a MindPlay universal screener to assess skill levels in phonics, comprehension, fluency and vocabulary. Each student is then assigned individualized MindPlay learning activities based on their unique learning needs.


Volunteers:  needed on an on-going basis

When is service needed: year-round, one-year commitment is requested.

Number of hours: Volunteer Literacy Coaches meet one to one (or on Zoom) with their assigned student once a week for 1 to 1 ½ hours. A one-year commitment is requested, but we can work with a semester-long commitment if needed.


  • In-person: yes
  • Hybrid in-person/virtual possible: yes
  • Fully virtual possible: yes


Training supplied: Staff is available to answer questions and provide support.  1.5 hours of orientation training required.

Equipment or logistics supplied: The Adult Literacy office staff will furnish the Literacy Coach with the appropriate curriculum and resources to work with their individual student.


How to apply: Complete the Literacy Coach application and indicate the times you will be available. Coaches and students are matched according to their availability and preferences. Call 515-248-7517 or email:

Contact: Vickie Merrifield, 515-248-7517,


Operation information:

Who we serve:

  • Any Des Moines area adult who needs to read, write, and/or speak better. (It is not necessary to be a DMACC student.)
  • New Iowans who can speak English but need to learn to read and write English.
  • Adults with low literacy skills who have dyslexia and/or learning disabilities.


Adults enroll because they want to complete a high school education, enroll in training or community college, read to their children, find a job or a better job, and to be more independent.

Our services:

  • Basic skills assessment
  • One-to-one tutoring
  • Computer-based instruction
  • Instruction in basic reading skills, spelling, comprehension, writing, and speaking.


Volunteers meet one-to-one with an assigned adult learner on the DMACC Urban Campus, at area libraries or other convenient public locations. Online learning is available.

Address: ​DMACC Urban Campus, 1100 7th Street, Bldg 1, Room 229, Des Moines, Iowa, 50307

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