Hawaii Literacy's mission is to help people gain knowledge and skills by providing literacy and lifelong learning services

We believe that literacy is at the core of having the opportunity for a better life, and that it is never too late for an adult to learn to read and write. We believe that well-trained and dedicated volunteers can successfully teach adults to read and write. We believe that parents are their children's first and best teachers, and that family support can help any parent, regardless of literacy level, help their child succeed. We believe that greater literacy builds stronger families and communities. 

Now when I don’t know a word, I sound it out. I am so thankful for my tutor. She gives me hope.
— Adult Literacy Student


Hawaii Literacy began in 1971 when two people who had received Mainland training in the Laubach method (Harry Chun-Hoon and Myrtle Lee) contacted Laubach Literacy Action in Syracuse, New York for help in organizing a volunteer tutoring program in Hawaii. The first workshop was presented by a tutor trainer from New York.  The newly-trained tutors began tutoring in the Kalihi area.  The program was incorporated in 1972 and received tax-exempt status in 1973. The emphasis was on English as a Second Language (ESL.) By 1979 there was a total of over 80 tutors who had worked with more than 250 students on Oahu and the Big Island.  Since then, Hawaii Literacy has offered various services on many of the islands in our state.  There is now an Adult Literacy program on Oahu, Kauai, and beginning in June 2015 in Kona, and these provide assistance to more than 160 students at any given time.  A Family Literacy program began in 1990 and provides free library and after-school educational services to families in two housing projects in the Kalihi area, along with an ELL program for adult residents; a Bookmobile which offers books, literacy-related activities, and computer use to 13 sites on the Waianae Coast; and a Drop-in Center in Honolulu for adult students who have various literacy needs and/or are seeking ELL instruction.  Hawaii Literacy is seeking to expand its services to people on all of the islands; the emphasis is on working with the under-served adult population.

Annual Report 2018

My kids love it and it makes them want to read. As a family, we all love your program. Keep inspiring children to read—they are our future.
— Parents of 3 Bookmobile attendees