The Second Start Literacy Program is a program based at the Oakland Public Library that helps adults reach their literacy goals. The program, started in 1984, is one of the original library-based literacy-programs in California. The program is free and participants work one-on-one with volunteer tutors (see below for info on becoming a tutor). Learners create their own goals which can be things like "reading street signs, registering to vote, passing a certification test for home care, getting a library card, paying bills independently, completing a job application, getting a driver's license, and reading to children."

From the website:

Second Start offers a confidential setting in which adults with low skill levels are able to get a "second start" at learning, for free. Adult students meet on-to-one with volunteer tutors. They can also participate in the computer learning lab and in family literacy programming if they are parents or have children in their lives. Smalllearning groups focusing on reading, spelling, and book discussions are also available to adult literacy students enrolled in the program.


Guidelines for referring adult learners to Second Start:

From OPL website:

Second Start serves people age 18 and older who read below a high school level. The program also serves 16-17 year olds who are not enrolled in high school

Second Start students are motivated to learn and have decided for themselves they want to participate in the program. The program cannot effectively serve people who are mandated to enroll by a third party.

Second Start students speak English well enough to communicate with a tutor and with staff people over the phone and in person. Most students in the program are native English speakers, but many students are non-native English speakers who can benefit from tutoring sessions that are conducted in English.

Students in the program are able to talk with staff members and with their tutors about what they want to learn about and be able to do. Tutoring pairs discuss their progress, what is working well, and what they would like to improve in their sessions.

Potential students contact Second Start themselves to schedule a first meeting with us in order to enroll in the program. We meet new students by appointment only and are unable to accept people on a drop-in basis.


External Link: 

Second Start

For more information - contact Kelly Frazier at 510-238-3432 or

Be a Volunteer Tutor

Click here to learn about being a tutor.

Click here to sign up to be a tutor.


Second Start is open:

  • Mondays: 10:00-5:30
  • Tuesdays: 10:00-5:30
  • Wednesdays: 12:00-8:00
  • Thursdays: 12:00-8:00
  • Fridayds: 12:00-5:30


Second Start is located in the Main Library of the Oakland Public Library, on the second floor, next to the Magazines & Newspapers Room.