Adult Literacy

Adult Literacy

Second Start helps adults reach their literacy goals!

The Oakland Public Library started Second Start Adult Literacy in 1984. We offer free and confidential learning for adults. Students meet one-on-one with volunteer tutors.

Second Start Adult Literacy Program

Main Library
2nd Floor
125 14th St.
Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 238-3432


We meet new students by appointment only.

We do not accept drop-in students.

Second Start Learners:

  • are 18 and older
  • OR, are 16 or 17 and not enrolled in high school
  • have decided for themselves that they want to participate in Second Start. 
  • are able to talk with staff and tutors about what they want to learn. Tutoring pairs discuss their progress, what is working well, and what they would like to improve in their sessions.
  • contact Second Start themselves to schedule a first meeting and enroll.

Second Start Volunteer Tutors:

  • are 18 years of age or older 
  • speak English well enough to communicate with learners and staff 
  • successfully complete tutor training 
  • possess excellent interpersonal skills, including good listening and communication skills 
  • understand Second Start’s mission and work 
  • commit to meeting with a learner 3 hours per week for a minimum of six months 

To become a tutor, check our volunteer page for open opportunities and our volunteer application.    

Adult Literacy Services are needed.

In Alameda County, 19% of English-speaking adults do not have basic literacy skills. In Oakland, this percentage is probably higher.
People who do not have basic skills might have trouble filling out a form at work, reading bills, or getting letters from their child's teacher. They face health risks because they can't read information about their medical conditions.
Adults who struggle with reading may have challenges using technology and participating in social life.

The Oakland Public Library's Second Start Program Works.

Adult learners in Second Start are active participants in their own learning. They use materials that are important to them in tutoring.
The program makes a difference in adults' everyday lives at home, at work or as community members.
Recent student accomplishments include:
  • reading street signs
  • registering to vote
  • passing a certification test for home care
  • paying bills independently
  • completing a job application
  • getting a driver's license
  • reading to children

"For the first time in my life, I feel good about saying things that are in my mind. I can put them on paper at last."

- Second Start student

Sign Up for Our Email NewsletterSign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to get monthly updates on what's going on at the Oakland Public Library.
Subscribe to get monthly updates on what's going on at the Oakland Public Library.
Back to Top