Ulster Literacy Association
Photo by Angela Benson.
Welcome to Ulster Literacy Association
Since 1981 the Ulster Literacy Association (ULA) has been helping educationally disadvantaged adults to improve their reading, writing and speaking of English at no cost to them. Our mission is to provide adults with effective programs in reading, writing and communication skills necessary for them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Overall, ULA serves nearly 600 students annually through the following programs:
- One-to-one tutoring
- BOCES classroom support
- The Kingston Literacy Center
- Off-site classes for those who cannot travel to Kingston
- The Jail Writing Program
One to One Tutoring
ULA is entirely student-centered. ULA keeps its doors open without discrimination to all adult learners and makes every attempt to provide them with services. We call, email and even text message everyone enrolled in our program annually to make sure they are satisfied with their tutoring and/or educational experience with ULA. Many of our learners have had negative experiences in a traditional classroom setting. Tutors work to tailor a learning approach that meets a student's individual goals and scheduling needs. Gaining skills, receiving individualized attention, and feeling personally committed to their own learning process all contribute to learner self-confidence. Improving literacy skills has a positive impact on an individual in ways which are not measurable through standardized testing alone. Required monthly reporting by tutors helps keep ULA staff informed about student achievements beyond testing results, including attaining citizenship, getting a better job, participating in their children's education, filling out applications, or better managing their finances.
BOCES Pre-GED and ESL Classroom Support
Through a recent partnership with BOCES, through a Literacy Zone grant, we conduct GED and ESL classes at the Literacy Center 4 evenings a week. In addition, we place qualified volunteer tutors into BOCES classrooms throughout the county to help ensure the success of those learners who may need extra support in writing and math.
The Kingston Literacy Center
The Literacy Center provides a different opportunity for our learners. While they are waiting to be matched with a tutor, or in addition to tutoring, our learners can drop in to several classes offered throughout the year, including computer literacy, math, creative writing, essay writing, conversational English, and civics. Classes build community for our learners and tutors alike. The center also invites casual conversation between tutors, staff and students. Moreover, volunteers can meet informally to share information, stories and advice. At the Literacy Center in Kingston we offer small group classes in conversational English, computer literacy, citizenship and numeracy.
When requests come from other agencies, libraries or local businesses for literacy services, we become mobile. Student intake, tutor training and post-testing now occur in our Kingston office as well as in one of the 21 Ulster County libraries. Current programs include literacy classes at farms; staff improvement classes at nail salons and health spas; English classes for parents in New Paltz, and citizenship classes in Saugerties.
The Jail Writing Program
Our jail writing program works with male and female inmates two evenings a week. Tutors provide free notebooks and pens to each participant. For two hours, inmates have a chance to read and discuss poetry, write in their journal, do crossword and word search puzzles, and engage in meaningful educational and intellectual activities. This program is supported by prison ministries and has been so successful over its 8 year history that several inmates have gone on to become ULA tutors. In 2011, one of our learners received an award from the National Prison Poetry contest. In partnership with the Mid-Hudson Library System, we have been able to stock the library cart and help ensure inmates have access to appropriate reading materials.