Project Literacy

Check out our Project Literacy video! View it here.

Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship. - Kofi Annan

Project Literacy is a department of the Watertown Free Public Library. We offer free literacy education to adult students learning to read, write, and speak English.

Who are Project Literacy learners?
Our learners are adults who want to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Some are immigrants learning English and about American culture.  Some are preparing to become U.S. citizens.  Some already speak English, but want to improve their literacy skills.

What does Project Literacy do?
We provide free evening English classes taught by professional teachers. We also offer one-on-one or small group tutoring by volunteer tutors.

How do I get into the classes or get a tutor?
Call us at 617.924.8797 to find out when you can register. Once registered, students go on a waiting list. From the waiting list, we enroll new students in classes in September, November, and January. We enroll new students in tutoring at different times during the year.

We do not register students on the phone. You must make an appointment to register. At registration we will give you a short test to find out which level of instruction you need. 

How many students and tutors are in Project Literacy?
Over 300 students study with Project Literacy.  Half are in evening English classes and half have tutors.

There are over 100 volunteer tutors.

How can I help?

How can I become a tutor?
Stop by our office and complete a volunteer application, give us a call at 617-924-8797, or contact our tutor coordinator, Peggie Hayes, phayes@watertown-ma.gov. Tutor training generally takes place in the spring and fall and is for a total of 15 hours, one night a week for five weeks.

What qualifications do I need to become a tutor?
You need to speak, read, and write English, be a good listener, and be able to spare two hours a week. That’s it.

Who pays for the program?
The Library contributes approximately 65% of the budget and the Friends of Project Literacy raise 35% of the budget through grants, corporations and individual donations.

Meet the Staff
Jeri Bayer - Project Literacy Director

Jeri Bayer joined the Project Literacy staff as its director in August 2012. Prior to that she served as an administrator at a community college, a curriculum developer for adult basic education programs, and as an English language teacher in a wide range of settings. Working with adult learners from diverse cultures and linguistic groups has been her passion and vocation since she was an undergraduate in college. Critical to her professional and personal development, was a two-year period she spent living in a country (Italy) where the primary language was not English. Whenever she meets someone here who has learned enough English to survive and, in many cases, to thrive, she tips her proverbial hat, knowing from her own experience, what a significant achievement that is!

Peggie Hayes - Coordinator of Volunteers

Peggie Hayes has been living in Watertown for over 20 years. She has raised two kids and four grandchildren in Watertown and Boston, taking advantage of the great community and schools Massachusetts offers. She is a Truman Scholar, which awards people who are pursuing a future in public service. Peggie studied at Bunker Hill Community College in Human Services and Photography. She went on to Emerson College for her Bachelor's in Communications in Politics and Law, also minoring in Fine Arts, Psychology, and Sociology. Peggie also recieved a post grad certificate in Copyediting. Peggie is always looking for fun things to do and is an avid follower of Boston Hoop Troop (where she hula hoops!). She is active in politics, civil rights, and anti-poverty issues.

Student Stories
Our literacy students have wonderful stories to tell. From time to time, we will highlight students’ descriptions of their life and challenges or their personal reflections of their culture. 

  • Voices of Project Literacy – Booklet of writings by learners, tutors, and teachers to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Project Literacy. 


Visit Project Literacy on Facebook ! 


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