About Us


The READ Center is a community-based nonprofit organization providing educational opportunities to adults with low-level reading and communication skills.

READ was founded as the Literacy Council of Metropolitan Richmond in 1982 by Altrusa International Richmond, Inc., a professional women’s business service club and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 1984.


Learning to read as an adult is complex, and our students have often had limited success in school. READ serves students in a very individualized way so they make progress toward their literacy and life goals.

The READ Center’s mission is accomplished by providing classroom instruction, one-to-one tutoring, and educational resources to support students.


The ability to read well is something many of us take for granted. It is something we assume every adult can do, but that is not true for one in six adults in the city of Richmond. Every important social issue is impacted by low literacy.

Imagine trying to read your prescription, get a driver’s license, apply to a job online, or help your child with homework when you struggle with reading. Low literacy traps families in a cycle of poverty that is hard to break.

Our Mission

The READ Center’s Mission:
Changing lives through adult literacy.

A community in which all adults have a literate life.

These are accomplished by providing:

Small Classrooms
One-to-one Tutoring
Financial and Health Literacy

Our Impact on RVA

Serving Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield

Low literacy is intrinsically linked to poor health, low educational attainment, joblessness, poor housing and poverty. 1 in 6 adults in Richmond City lacks the literacy skills to read a bus schedule, fill out a job application or help their children with homework. In Henrico County, it’s about 1 in 11 adults and Chesterfield 1 in 12.

When individuals learn how to read, write, do basic math, and use computers, they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep sustainable employment, and ultimately change their lives. The figures below are for the 2017-2018 academic year.


Students rate READ as good for learning

People Served

Student Goals Achieved

Why Adult Literacy?

  • 36 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.
  • 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
  • $232 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low literacy.
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. They are also more likely to repeat school years or drop out.

More than 73,000 in metro Richmond lack basic literacy skills.

The READ Center believes one adult who can’t read well is one too many.

Read Center Staff

Jake Anderson

Development & Marketing Assistant

Nausha Brown Chavez

Program Manager

Leslie Harper

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Carolyn Harsh

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Daphne Hill


Erin Hillert

Development Director

Mary Jamison


Karen La Forge

Executive Director

Janet Sodell

Teacher & Tutor Trainer

Don Wilms



Program Assistant

Board Of Directors

Nora Crouch, President

Markel Corporation

Kady Salmon

Dominion Energy Services, Inc.

Ellen Marie Hess

Virginia Employment Commission

Laurie Sanderson


Frank McCormick, Vice President

Fidelity National Title

William Seymour

Florance, Gordon, Brown, P.C.

Jean Proffitt

University of Richmond, Retired    A READ Founder

Margaret Shaia, Treasurer


Sandy Reynolds

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Bryan Stogdale, Secretary

Columbia Gas of Virginia

Madeline Taylor

Columbia Gas of Virginia, retired

Janet Palmer

City of Richmond

Brittany Phinyowattanachip

Ernst & Young

READ Center’s Board welcomes questions, comments and input.  You can e-mail the board with this link. 

Everyone needs and deserves a literate life.

Want to learn more about adult literacy? Click here for the facts.