Supporting Adult Literacy


This is an important fundraiser for Tompkins Learning Partners (TLP), a LiteracyNY affiliated non-profit organization, which provides literacy tutoring, free of charge, for over 100 adults in our community.

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of all profits from the competition will go to support adult literacy in Ithaca and Tompkins County, New York.

SINCE 1976, Tompkins Learning Partners has been providing tutoring services to local residents who need help reading, writing, or speaking English. These services are provided through dedicated volunteer tutors who give their time to make a difference in students’ lives. The knowledge that students gain allows them to achieve their personal goals, such as obtaining or improving their employment, continuing their education, or gaining citizenship. Tompkins Learning Partners is a not-for-profit, governed by a board of directors of local residents, committed to the cause of literacy in our community.

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Success Stories


Tutor L. reported, “J. and M. are now helping their communities in a big way and they are doing it selflessly. They assist with parent-teacher conferences and school communications and also accompany friends and family to doctor appointments and other important meetings. They are doing this in addition to maneuvering the challenges of their own lives. They seek no gratification. [My students] think this is no big deal but they are using what they have learned to make a difference and help others. I find it really impressive!”

C. passed her citizenship test while also increasing her English skills with the help of her tutor. She is now attending an online course to become certified as an interpreter for her community and says, “TLP helped me. Now I can help others.”

B. said she feels comfortable asking questions at work and talking to her neighbors as a result of practicing English with her tutor. Recently,  her smoke alarm malfunctioned and beeped continually, so she called her apartment manager to explain the problem on her own. She said she was happy she practiced making phone calls with her tutor because now, she can get help when she needs it.

L. L., in his early thirties, never finished high school. He studied for a few years with TLP before being asked by his uncle, after observing him reading. “You read?” The student replied, “I do now!”

Two female students in their late twenties, with GEDs, self-referred to TLP to “brush up” on math skills, both with the goal of eventually entering Tompkins-Cortland Community College classes. Both students have obtained certificates in two TC-3 Biz courses and credit the math support from TLP tutors with their success.

D. T. passed his driving test and received his learners permit. In his twenties, he is able to read and understand road signs, traffic patterns and road lines.

V. N. passed the math portion of the GED and she is currently enrolled at TC-3 studying human services.

I. L. when asked by the tutor, “What are you reading at home?” he responded with the book title, and added, “And you know what? I couldn’t put it down!” In his thirties, I.L lives at home and takes care of his ailing parents.

M. P. an older gentleman in his 50”s, started working as a volunteer at a local non-profit agency and received praise for his knowledge and patience on the job.

D. M. got his driver’s license so he was able to get a job as a temporary food service position at Cornell University. His tutor helped him learn the vocabulary needed to pass the test.

J. S. worked with his tutor to learn how to write cover letters and enhance his resume. A young man in his twenties, he now works at a local retail store after doing very well at his interview.

M. S. now can find math in anything that is relevant to her life, she also uses math to make changes in her life and with the input of her teenage daughter is remodeling her living room.

V. A., after studying at TLP for a few years, is now very good with computers and learning new programs, such as Excel, allowing him to become the treasurer of a local club.

P. N., now in his thirties, never finished high school and after working with his tutor for a few weeks, is able to count and uses coins and currency.


S. S. passed her citizenship test in February. She is originally from Thailand.

H. N. a young man in his twenties, whose home country is China, now understands advanced vocabulary and idioms and is beginning to write stories with the help of his tutor.

F. M. a single 21 year-old, is able to tell stories about her family, country and culture. She came to Ithaca from Ukraine.

D. E. began to write detailed pieces about her life, inspired by some life stories in an adult ESL book that was found at the library. In her fifties, she is from Colombia and plans to share her stories with her children and grandchildren.

L. O. has learned to operate the computer at work and is able to work as a cashier. She came to our community from Burma.

W. T. learned about Thanksgiving and, at their Thanksgiving dinner, served pumpkin and apple pies and cranberry sauce to his large extended family including his two children and four grandchildren.

T. N. came to us from Thailand with her husband and two children. She went to Greenstar for one tutoring session, studied food labels and learned how the aisles are laid out. Thirty-year old T.N. engaged with some students at Ithaca College, where he works, and spoke in English with them. In exchange, he helps them with their Spanish. He is originally from Central America.

C. V. began to build a vocabulary around driving concepts and now understands the process of getting a car fixed. She received her learners permit. She is excited to be able to drive her three children to and from school, something she was never able to do in her home country of Peru.

B. F. originally from Columbia, started working on Microsoft Word. She can create documents using templates or from scratch, draw tables and figures, change fonts and colors and insert pictures and hyperlinks. In her thirties, she hopes these skills will help her get a better job.

V. C., once a resident of Mexico, now reads and understands bills and mail. She can fill out her insurance, credit, housing and consumer benefits forms.

E. S. registered her child for school according to guidelines. She learned how to read and fill out forms with her TLP tutor. Now in her early thirties, she was formerly a resident of Ukraine.

R. M. formerly from Honduras, can now read grocery ads and understand measurement labels such as “per pound,” “buy one, get one free,” “6 pack,” “carton,” and “bottle.” He wanted to learn these things so he could get good deals at the grocery store, and better prepare meals for his wife and child.


K. and T. meet with their tutor at their workplace. They review work related vocabulary words and practice conversations so they can communicate better with co-workers and their supervisor. Their supervisor reports that they are speaking English on the job more frequently than before they started studying with their tutor. They are from Laos and Guatemala.


T., who came to us from the Dominican Republic, practiced a telephone conversation with his tutor so he could call his dentist to make an appointment to have his tooth pulled. He also practiced filling out forms and new vocabulary words so he could communicate with the dentist and better understand his after care.


Y. and her tutor visited the library and practiced selecting and checking out books. Y. brought two books to her next study session. Much to her tutor’s surprise, she had checked them out on her own and was almost finished with both. Y is from Burma.


L. S. works in food service and was told that she needed to know the English words for the foods she prepares. After working with her tutor, she learned the names of each of the fruits in the fruit salad she regularly makes. She also learned the difference between turkey, pork, and beef so that she can bring the correct item from the refrigeration unit when asked to do so. She came to us from Cambodia.

Prior to having outpatient surgery, P. K.’s doctor sent him a health questionnaire which he did not understand. He worked with his tutor to learn about basic body systems (e.g. pulmonary, circulatory, etc.) and answer the questions related to each system on the form. He is from Morocco.

C. J. recently arrived here from Russia and had been meeting with her tutor for one month. So far, she has learned basic greetings and responses and how to write some simple sentences. The twenty-eight year-old has also learned to tell time and order tea at a restaurant.

H. B. was unable to attend school in her home country of Iraq. When she started studying with her tutor, she was unfamiliar with reading and writing in both her native language and in English. Today, she can recognize and spell out numbers (0-10) and can identify and write the names of basic colors. She has also completed reading a variety of beginning level books in English.

G. G. and W. N., TLP students from Vietnam, took a field trip to the Tompkins County Public Library with their tutor where they learned to check out books independently. Their tutor reports that these young women are now checking out books and DVDs on a regular basis.

Students in the Monday/Wednesday evening conversation group practiced dialogs to use in emergency situations. In one scenario, students learned how to call 9-1-1 to report a kitchen fire and identified important information to convey to the operator such as name, address, and type of emergency. The students in this class are from Burma, El Salvador, Pakistan, and China.