Adult Literacy Center

Would you like to read better? You are not alone.

Do you need to read better to

  • Get a better job
  • Enroll in training
  • Pass HiSET tests
  • Do better in ELL classes
  • Enroll in DMACC credit classes
  • Read to your children
  • Speak and understand English better
  • Understand your health information
  • Feel better about yourself

Get help at the Adult Literacy Center with

  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Spelling
  • Writing

It is not necessary to be a DMACC Student to use the Adult Literacy Center.

You must be able to:

  • Understand and speak everyday English, and
  • Meet with a tutor once a week for 1 or 1½ hours and/or spend 2 hours a week in web-based instruction.

How to enroll

Step 1: Complete application
Download or Print & Complete Application

Step 2: Schedule an interview

Schedule a time for an interview and assessment (1 to 1½ hours). Email us or call 515-248-7517.

After enrollment, you will be placed on the list for a literacy coach. While waiting for a literacy coach, you will have access to online learning on home computers, at libraries or at the DMACC Des Moines (Urban) Adult Literacy Center location.

About the Adult Literacy Center

The Mission of the Adult Literacy Center is to improve literacy, resulting in enhanced self-esteem, daily living and lifelong learning. Utilizing volunteers and new technologies, we teach adults to read, write and comprehend.

  • Any Des Moines area adult who needs to read, write, and/or speak better. (It is not necessary to be a DMACC student.)
  • New Iowans who can speak English but need to learn to read and write English.
  • Adults with low literacy skills who have dyslexia and/or learning disabilities.

Adults enroll because they want to complete a high school education, enroll in training or community college, read to their children, find a job or a better job, and to be more independent.

  • Basic skills assessment
  • One-to-one tutoring
  • Computer-based instruction
  • Instruction in basic reading skills, spelling, comprehension, writing, and speaking

Volunteers meet one-to-one with an assigned adult learner on the DMACC Des Moines (Urban) Campus, at area libraries or other convenient public locations. Online learning is available.

The Adult Literacy Center (ALC) was founded in 1976 at the Drake University School of Education. In 2018 the ALC moved to DMACC’s Urban Campus.


Ways You Can Help

Donate Now!

The Adult Literacy Center (ALC) at DMACC is funded solely through grants and donations, with additional support from DMACC. Donations from individuals help the Center purchase more learning materials and books for students, and are greatly appreciated. If you would like to make a donation to help support the Center’s work, you can do so online using the DMACC Foundation’s “Make A Gift” donation form. When completing the form to submit your donation, be sure to type “Adult Literacy Center at DMACC” in the donation designation comment box.


Volunteer Literacy Coaches meet one to one (or on Zoom) with their assigned student once a week for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Coaching sessions can occur in study rooms on DMACC campuses or at any library or community center. These sessions are arranged in the Adult Literacy Center office to accommodate both Coach and Student.

The Adult Literacy office staff will furnish the Literacy Coach with the appropriate curriculum and resources to work with their individual student. Staff is available to answer questions and provide support.

The Adult Literacy Center also uses MindPlay, an online program that offers anywhere, anytime learning. The ALC student first completes a MindPlay universal screener to assess skill levels in phonics, comprehension, fluency and vocabulary. Each student is then assigned individualized MindPlay learning activities based on their unique learning needs.

How to Become a Literacy Coach

Complete the Literacy Coach application and indicate the times you will be available. Coaches and students are matched according to their availability and preferences. A one-year commitment is requested.

ALC Literacy Coach Application

Call 515-248-7517 or email:

Adult Literacy Center, DMACC Des Moines (Urban) Campus, 1100 7th Street, Bldg 1, Room 110 Des Moines, Iowa, 50314 515-248-7517