While DC has one of the highest numbers of millionaires per capita, 17.4% of adults here live in poverty and poverty is a leading indicator of low literacy. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that one in four struggles with reading, one in three with math. And low literacy skills are a barrier to just about everything completing an education, getting a decent job, staying out of poverty. WLC removes the barrier by teaching basic literacy, reading, math, and workforce development skills to adults who read below a fifth-grade level. WLC also provides literacy instruction to immigrants who struggle to read and write in their native languages, and we specialize in working with adults who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Over the past 60 years, WLC has evolved from teaching basic reading and math to now teaching skills that are crucial for working, learning and living in the 21st century.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 1

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; WLC is located in the Shaw community and serves residents of Ward 5,6,7, and 8.

Age Groups Served: Adult (25-49)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Latino/Hispanic

  • Improve Basic Reading Skills :   90 District adults
  • Improve reading skills at least one level as measured by the CASAS (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Series)required for entry into District GED and job training programs:   40% of adults served

Awards & Recognition

Named "One of the best small nonprofits in the DC region" by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, 2014 & 2018


  • 'I couldn't even read the diploma.' Now he struggles to learn what schools didn't teach him.
    Thu Jan 18 2018, The Washington Post  
    The Washington Literacy Center has taught hundreds of adults to read but estimates that there are 90,000 adults in DC who are illiterate.

Budget (FY2013)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • The current budget for Washington Literacy Center is: $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

About the Catalogue for Philanthropy

Each year 120 expert reviewers evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Each featured charity has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. The Catalogue for Philanthropy charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $40 million for charities across the Greater Washington region.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy looks to friends like you to keep our services independent and entirely free of charge. Consider a small contribution to the Catalogue to cap off your gift and help the causes you care about get the full support they deserve!

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