By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 24, 2003 at 5:14 AM

In 1983, a study called "Milwaukee 2000" revealed that one in every six Milwaukeeans was functionally illiterate. In response to this information, Alverno, Mount Mary and Cardinal Stritch colleges formed a not-for-profit organization called the Milwaukee Achiever Program, and today, have served almost 7,000 Milwaukee residents.

Although the organization doesn't advertise, word of mouth has made it one of the most sought-after literacy programs in the city with an on-going waiting list of 100 people or more at two of the three centers.

According to Executive Director Peg Palmer there is such a demand for MAP's services because of the high number of families moving here from all over the world -- the program currently has learners from 27 different countries -- and due to the expanding Latino population in Milwaukee.

"There are other programs similar to ours in the city, but some work in groups of 20 or 30 whereas we offer one-on-one tutoring," says Palmer. "We match a volunteer with a learner and the two work together for up to a year. This way, they develop a relationship, learn to appreciate each other's culture and the tutor is overall able to do a better job."

Palmer says they currently staff around 200 volunteers, but are looking to recruit more.

The programs offered include English as a Second Language (ESL), adult basic education, general education development, citizenship skills, computer literacy and workplace literacy. They also help students to understand cultural structures in the United States, attain citizenship, become registered and active voters, obtain a driver's license and banking account and more.

64 percent of the Milwaukee Achiever Program are women, most of who handle day care issues while struggling to learn English and find a decent job.

"The biggest problem for me is that I do not know English," says Maria Josefa Trigueros, a student of the program. "Right now, my goal is to learn English well enough so that my knowledge of the language will open doors of opportunity for me in the United States. One-on-one tutoring in English has helped me a great deal."


More than 20 percent of American adults read below a fifth grade reading level, which is far below the skills needed to earn a livable income. Literacy has been proven to affect many different aspects of one's life and society as a whole, including poverty, health and the likelihood of spending time in a correctional institution.

Milwaukee Achiever Program centers are located at 1506 W. Pierce St., (414) 643-0176, 1501 S. Layton Ave., (414) 382-4459, and 3410 W. Silver Spring Dr., (414) 463-7389. To find out more about becoming a volunteer, call (414) 643-5108, ext. 105.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.