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. 


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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.

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