Educational Institutions

Whatcom Literacy Council

  • Bellingham, WA

Mission Statement

The Whatcom Literacy Council (WLC) was founded in 1978 with the mission to teach adults in Whatcom County to read, write, and speak English. Thousands of adults have changed their lives through their work with WLC.

Our students learn to read to their children, find or maintain employment, communicate with physicians, volunteer in local schools, vote, and attain personal goals.

Tutoring is free and confidential and supported by donations. The need for our services continues to grow due to changes in employment standards, cuts in State funding, welfare reform, and immigration patterns. At any given time we have as many as 30 adults who are waiting to learn to read.

Main Programs

  1. Free literacy programs in Whatcom County

service areas


Self-reported by organization

ruling year


chief executive for fy 2013

Ms. Katherine Freimund

Self-reported by organization


adult literacy, literacy tutoring, ESL tutoring

Self-reported by organization

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Physical Address

3028 Lindbergh Avenue, Building A

Bellingham, WA 98225

Also Known As



Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Employment, Job Related N.E.C. (J99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Impact statement

Adults with improved literacy skills earn more money, raise healthy families, vote, and give back to their communities in countless ways.
At the Whatcom Literacy Council learners set their own goals, such as reading to their children, getting a drivers' license, getting a better job, or obtaining citizenship, and learning plans are developed based on those goals. Volunteer tutors receive 8 hrs of training from ProLiteracy certified staff before beginning to work with a learner, and then receive ongoing support throughout their service. Tutors submit reports monthly tracking time with their learner, and when goals are achieved. In 2012 497 learners met 577 of their goals.
The Whatcom Literacy Council believes that our community is a healthier one when a greater number of adults achieve the self sufficiency that better literacy skills support.


What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

Free literacy programs in Whatcom County

Not available




Population Served




Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Self-reported by organization

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    At the Whatcom Literacy Council we work towards making Whatcom County a community where all adults have the literacy skills they need to thrive. It is our goal to provide free, effective, high quality programs that are learner-centered. We partner with other area adult basic education organizations (Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College, Whatcom County Library System, Goodwill) where we compliment each others' programs and make efforts not to duplicate services.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    The Whatcom Literacy Council has a threefold programming approach to addressing literacy gaps in the local population. By offering one-to-one tutoring, small classes, and individualized learning plans we serve our learners in the three formats of teaching that have the highest levels of participation, and are most effective. Our programs cater to the individual's needs in ways that other organizations cannot replicate, which is extremely important when working with illiterate adults. Our professional staff are highly educated, certified, and experienced in the field, and our program formats have been developed to have the greatest impact possible.

    Our one-on-one tutoring program is highly effective because we take the time to train our volunteers to be effective and accountable, and we work hard to match tutor-learner pairs who are most compatible. The goals chosen by the learner have real life applications that, once reached, can be used immediately. Many pairs work together for more than a year.

    The second approach involves small classes, which cover a range of topics, from GED prep to basic computer skills. We have worked hard to be responsive to our learners regarding both curriculum and the time and location of classes. These classes are offered in 6-week formats for maximum participation and achievement. This spring we offered a "pre-lit" class for a group in Ferndale who needed to work on skills that were below the most basic assessment levels.

    We also offer personalized support systems so that we stay in touch with our learners even when they are not being tutored or are taking a class. We provide mentors and identify resources that are available to individuals who want to keep learning on their own. We hope to build a foundation so the adults we serve can be lifelong learners even after they leave our programs.

    This three-pronged approach to literacy issues has been very effective. WLC has a strong reputation for excellence, and all of the area adult education providers (Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College, Goodwill, and the Whatcom County Library System) have established partnerships with WLC because of the strength and success of our services.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Our professional and experienced staff bring incredible knowledge and expertise to our programs. Three of our staff have masters degrees in their fields. Our program staff have over 20 years of teaching experience, and both of our PT program staff have trainer certification from ProLiteracy America.
    In 2010, WLC passed 16 different standards in the areas of student services, tutor services and organizational management to receive national accreditation by ProLiteracy America, the only national accreditation service in the adult literacy field.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    When a learner begins work with the Whatcom Literacy Council, they establish the goals they would like to work on. When a tutor is paired with a learner, they develop a learning plan based on those goals. These goals are tracked in a database, and achievements are recorded. We feel this approach guarantees that the learner's needs are being met, and that our programs are appropriate.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Every year the Whatcom Literacy Council serves an average of 500 learners in Whatcom County with the help of approximately 60 volunteer tutors. At a minimum 80% of learners achieve at least one of the goals they have set for the year. Of course we could serve more people if we had the financial resources to expand our programs; at any given point in time we have over 20 learners on a waiting list for tutors.

service areas


Self-reported by organization

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Whatcom Literacy Council



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2012
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


Ms. Katherine Freimund


Katherine Freimund has worked for a number of nonprofits in Whatcom County, and serves on the Whatcom Council of Nonprofits Steering Committee. She went to the University of Chicago as an undergraduate, has a Masters in Public Administration from Suffolk University in Boston, and served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa.



Joan Airoldi


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?