By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 20, 2006 at 5:23 AM

Literacy Services of Wisconsin is the oldest and largest volunteer-based literacy agency in the state. Since 1965, the group has taught thousands of local adults how to read.

"In one year, we help more than 1,600 adults learn to read, speak and write in English, or prepare for the GED," says Barbara Felix, executive director.

Milwaukee has a 27 percent illiteracy rate among adults, totaling over 150,000 individuals.

"This is about the same as in New Orleans, a city of severe poverty, unemployment, segregation and crime," says Felix.

Literacy Services of Wisconsin students receive free tutoring, and tax dollars are not used to fund the program. The entire budget -- $500,000 annually -- comes from donations.

Every student receives individualized tutoring in their area of need, at their own pace, three times a week, for one hour per session. Students stay, on average, for 10 months, but some stay for years, or as long as it takes to reach their goal.

"Motivation to learn is the only requirement for admission," says Felix

The average age of a Literacy Services' adult student is 37; and the gender distribution is about 50-50. Students attend WLS for a host of reasons, including dyslexia.

"Reading is everybody's birthright, and every contribution helps to cure this problem," says Felix. "The need is Milwaukee is enormous."'s adult spelling bee, called "OMC-B," takes place on March 21 at Room 434, 434 S. 2nd St., and is a benefit event for Literacy Services of Wisconsin. Participants paid $15 each to compete for a host of great prizes, and a portion of the entry fee will go to WLS.

The Literacy Services of Wisconsin Web site is

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.