The still-under-construction new facade at Aquinas Literacy Center at 1751 W. 35th St., Chicago, awaits some final touches, including its new signage.

Aquinas Literacy Center Lands State of Illinois Grant, Scopes September Reopening

Published July 9, 2020

Aquinas Literacy Center, which provides free language tutoring from its McKinley Park neighborhood headquarters, received a renewed Adult Volunteer Literacy Grant from the State of Illinois in order to continue its mission of teaching English to adult learners. The grant, which applies to Aquinas' 2021 fiscal year, provides $53,500 toward salaries, tutor training workshops, professional development, instructional materials and supplies.

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"This grant affirms the importance of our mission and offers stability to our community during these challenging times," said Aquinas Executive Director Alison Altmeyer. "The Illinois Secretary of State and Illinois State Library continue to generously support Aquinas Literacy Center."

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The Adult Volunteer Literacy Grant annual award is the third in a row for Aquinas, and it has grown each year, providing $8,500 more than 2020 and $13,500 more than 2019, Altmeyer said. 

"Grant projects provide instruction to help adults who read below the ninth grade level or speak English at a beginning level to improve their basic reading, writing, math, or English language proficiency," the Illinois Secretary of State wrote in a description of the grant program on its website.

September Reopening Planned

Aquinas Literacy Center, which normally hums with dozens of adult students learning English, aided by staff and an all-volunteer corps of Aquinas-trained English language tutors, has been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Altmeyer said, the center may be open again this fall.

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“In conversation with our Board of Directors and administrative team, we are developing plans to safely open our doors for on-site learning, beginning on Tuesday, September 8, 2020,” Altmeyer said.

This will precede Aquinas moving into its 25th year providing community services the McKinley Park neighborhood, Altmeyer said. "As Aquinas Literacy Center embarks on twenty-five years of service, we are grateful for the support from the Illinois Secretary of State/Illinois State Library because it allows us to provide individualized instruction to a diverse community.”

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