Adult Literacy

The Oakland Public Library started Second Start Adult Literacy in 1984.

Adult Literacy at OPL

Second Start helps adults reach their literacy goals.

Contact Us
(510) 238-3432
Main Library, 2nd Floor

125 14th St.


By appointment

What We Do

Second Start offers free and confidential learning for adults. Students meet one-on-one with volunteer tutors.
Students get help using computers.

"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." - a Second Start student

three adults are looking at a digital device together

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.
person helping someone at the computer

We meet new students by appointment only. We do not accept drop-in students.

(510) 238-3432

The Need for Adult Literacy Services is Great

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 have a hard time participating in technology and 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.
Here are recent student accomplishments:
  • 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
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