We are a non-profit committed to the mission of fostering and strengthening literacy skills and coordinating with community resources to provide services, enabling learners to reach their full potential. 

Mission + Values



Our mission is to foster and strengthen literacy skills enabling learners to reach their full potential.


To close the book on illiteracy.


1. Recruit and tutor adults who need help in reading, writing, math and/or English as a Second Language.
2. Recruit and train volunteers.
3. Provide programs to increase the family’s awareness of the value of reading.
4. Promote literacy awareness.
5. Coordinate with community resources.

More than 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do math, and use technology above a third-grade level. The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Literacy (PIAAC) examined the United states and 23 other industrialized countries and found that U.S. mean literacy score was below the international average – Ranking 16th out of 24 countries. There is a correlation between low literacy rate and a low paycheck. Just 35% of individuals with below basic skills are employed full-time, while 64% of people with proficient literacy skills have full-time employment. The salaries of adults with below-basic literacy skills are, on average, $28,000 less than salaries of adults with proficient skills.

Individuals at the lowest level of literacy have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Low literacy adds an estimated $230 billion to the country’s annual healthcare costs. Providing adult learners access to education is a solution to addressing income and health concerns. We believe literacy should be within everyone’s reach – empowering adults to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by acquiring the skills they need to succeed. Joplin NALA Read’s Adult Literacy and ESL services play a vital role, increasing literacy levels and enhancing skills which improve the adult learner’s ability to address income and health responsibilities.

In our community alone, there are roughly 11,000 adults with low literacy levels. (Jasper and Newton Counties)

It is vital to call attention to the problem of illiteracy.  But even more essential is the need to reach the people who need help in overcoming their literacy capabilities.  Research shows that children achieve superior outcomes in school and in life when they receive literacy support outside the classroom.  This support consistently results in higher graduation rates, increased future earning potential, and improved quality of life. By helping adults increase their basic skills and understand the importance of literacy, we are helping adults reach their full potential and access all their options in life while strengthening the literacy support for children.

The Joplin Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action, also known as Joplin NALA Read, is a non-profit 501(c)3 literacy council organization that was founded in 1981. We are a United Way partner agency and an accredited member of ProLiteracy. Our mission is to provide tuition-free programs to improve the self-sufficiency of families by supporting adult learners in their efforts to increase skills – efforts that give them access to a better life and make a positive impact on our community.

NALA student, Grant, talks about how Joplin NALA Read has helped him and what NALA means to him.


Joplin NALA Read is positioned to enable learners to reach their full potential and that is a sound investment in both the present and the future, because it helps adults right now while laying the foundation for the future success of their children. 

We offer classes and one-on-one tutoring in literacy-related subjects, including reading, writing, math, computer literacy, and English as a Second Language.

Student Orientation

Learning to read isn’t easy.  To give our adult learners the best possible chance for success, we carefully evaluate their needs and help them assess their own strengths before they even begin the learning process.  Adult learners new to Joplin NALA Read are first interviewed, then given an assessment.  The assessment is vital in identifying essential life skills the student needs. The orientation session guides students in identifying personal literacy goals and helps them understand the importance of the commitment they must make to realize those goals. 

Adult Literacy Program

Joplin NALA Read serves under-educated adults through its tuition-free adult literacy program, which pairs adult learners with volunteer tutors in a one-on-one setting.  Skills and concepts presented are relevant to adults, including health, work, family, community, school, civics and government, recreation, housing, transportation, food, and consumerism and money. Sessions cover reading and writing, as well as basic mathematics skills, and are guided by the adult learner’s personal goals.

English Language Program (ESL)

Joplin NALA Read’s tuition-free English as a Second language (ESL) program is delivered through one-on-one and small-group classes taught by volunteer instructors.  For those students planning on taking the citizenship test, we provide tutors who can help them achieve this exciting goal.

We offer different levels of English classes, from beginning ESL to high-intermediate and advanced.  Students learn the English skills needed to survive. Thematic lessons relate to the students’ life experiences and interests in health, work, family, community, school, civics and government, recreation, housing, transportation, food, and consumerism and money.  At every level, students work on improving their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Our instructors provide encouragement and support so that students feel confident using English outside the classroom.  They give students the opportunity to practice their English speaking through role-plays and conversations in class. 


Citizenship preparation classes help students succeed in their citizenship interview. Learners will gain knowledge of American history, geography, and government to prepare them for the 100 questions used in the civics portion of the interview. Classes include practice in reading aloud/writing and using vocabulary designated for the literacy test portions of the interview. Through role play and other simulations, learners will gain extensive practice in understanding and responding to questions based on the applicant's N-400 Application for Naturalization.