Literacy Volunteers of Illinois


Supporting Volunteer Literacy In Illinois Since 1979


Congratulations to our 2024 Tutor of the Year,

Anne Reiley of Howard Evanston Community Center!

Anne Reiley has volunteered with Howard community center for almot 6 years and has provided direct instruction to 37 learners in 2023 alone. Currently she dedicates four hours Monday-Thursday to the level 1 classroom, where she teaches foundational skills, like the English alphabet, how to hold a pen, and basic phonics to learners who are not literate in their native languages. As Katherine Erickson, the Adult Education Volunteer Coordinator at Howard writes, “Many of her students learn to read for the first time as a direct result of her small group meetings.”

Anne’s success stems, not only from her consistency, but from the innovative strategies she employs both in and out of the classroom. As Katherine Erickson notes, “Anne spends a lot of time outside of class to search for suitable materials.” Whether Anne is engaging learners with tactile tools banagrams to provide an alternative to handwriting, or incorporating digital
technology like “Learning Chocolate” to reinforce class material, she endeavors to connect with all of her students on an individual basis and meet their diverse needs.

Congratulations to our 2024 Oustanding Tutors!


Marcia Banzuly, Literacy Chicago, Chicago

Marcia Banzuly has volunteered with Literacy Chicago going on 2 years, in the capacity of substitute teacher and one-on-one tutor.

Marcia’s patient approach to tutoring builds students' skills and confidence. Because many adult learners have had learning experiences in the past that have had negative effects on their self-esteem, Marcia shows her students that she believes in them. Marcia’s impact can be seen in and outside of the classroom, on the smiling faces of her students, and in the stories they share. For example, one of Marcia’s students shared that while driving she had been able to read the street signs and “for the first time, [she] knew where she was.”

Jon Carlson, Jump Start with Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, Warrenville

Jon Carlson works hard by day as an arborist but still finds the time and the energy to tutor incarcerated youth at the Illinois Center in Warrenville one evening a week for several hours. 

John is described as showing up for his students with his whole heart. John often uses his experience as an arborist who works with trees and out in nature to make science come alive for his students. In a setting where many of the youth we tutor don’t get time outside, this skill is crucial for them to develop curiosity and awareness of the world outside the confines of the Youth Facilities.

Mark Cortez, Centro Romero, Chicago

Mark Cortez has been tutoring the same student for 2 years now, which Joseph Solak, the Volunteer Coordinator at Centro Romero describes as the “consistency that Centro Romero stives for with all its volunteers.”

Mark provides one-on-one support, preparing his student for the Naturalization Exam by developing her English speaking and reading comprehension skills. Mark’s student recently passed her Naturalization Exam, and Joey Solak credits both Mark and the students “consistency and hard work.”

Christine Gainer, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Chicago

Chritine Gainer started tutoring and mentoring a student at Chinese Mutual Aid Association in December 2023.

In the 5 months since she bagan meeting with her tutee, a 78 year old student who wants to improve her conversational skills, the student has been able to hold a basic conversation and ask basic questions in English. Christine has provided consistent and creative instruction centering on speech and hearing practice, planning lessons that relate to her student’s interests and preparing homework to reinforce the material.

Eric Niffenegger, The Learning Center, Chicago

Eric Niffenegger joined The Learning Center (TLC) as a volunteer tutor just this past year, and has made “himself a friendly face for all students to remember,” according to Mary Rice, the Volunteer Coordinator at TLC.  

In addition to offering one-on-one tutor, Eric joins students in the Adult Basic Education classroom as a general tutor. Eric displays his deep interest in education by drafting classroom materials, doing research on bonus activities for our adult learners, and promoting educational events offered around the city. Eric’s success is demonstrated by the close relationship he has developed with one of his students; the duo works together and opens up to each other.

Bruce Swiecicki, Prairie State College, Chicago Hieghts

Bruce Swiecicki has volunteered as a math tutor with Prairie State College for six years and dedicated 150 hours to the program in 2023 alone, serving 16 individual learners. Bruce creatively demystifies math problems, challenging learners to think of math solutions by applying the actual question to real life circumstances. His simplified and applicable tutoring sessions show students that math is not a mystery even if it is often taught like it is.

As Kisha Brown, the Adult Literacy Coodinator at Prairie State College recognizes, the students that Bruce works with gain confidence when they realize they are actually solving math problems on a daily basis.


LVI began by working with just four LVA programs, and today provides an array of resources and services to staff, tutors, and students in adult literacy programs statewide.


Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
100 South State Street, Suite 437
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-857-1582

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