The Bradford-Wyoming County Literacy Program received four new computers for its office on Friday courtesy of Chesapeake Energy. One of the new computers will be used for office duties in Towanda. The other three will be located at the Towanda office as well, but designated for use by students of the program.

The program in need of funding since the Department of Education eliminated a grant designated for them in 2011.

"This is a really great program and they need the help," said Chesapeake Energy's Manager of Corporate Development, Jane Clements in announcing the donation.

Program Director Sherry Spencer was thankful for the donation saying, "We are very grateful for the generosity of Chesapeake Energy. They are very active in the community and known for making donations like this for good causes."

The program, founded in 1980, is a funded agency of the United Way of Bradford County. The program also receives funding from other government grants and private donations.

According to Spencer, the program offers a learning environment for teenagers and adults who lack basic reading or writing skills. The program also has tutors trained to help teach individuals looking to learn English as a second language.

Illiteracy is a problem that lies under the radar throughout the United States. According to the Department of Education, approximately 93 million adults in the U.S. have basic or below basic literacy skills. This is about one out of every two adults across the nation.

"This is the 21st century and we are still facing this problem. It is shocking," Spencer asserted.

All of the tutors that are involved in the program work on a volunteer basis. Spencer estimates there are approximately 80 trained tutors working across Wyoming and Bradford Counties. She also explained that there are about 80 to 100 students currently involved with the program. Because of the great student to teacher ratio, wait times for new students to be paired with a tutor are generally low.

"We are always looking for more volunteer tutors," Spencer said, noting that there is currently a larger need for tutors in the Sayre area.

If interested in becoming a tutor, a required training workshop must be completed before working with students. A total of 12 hours of workshop training is required over four days at the Patterson Building, Guthrie Campus, in Sayre. The workshop runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, 22, 29, and Feb. 5. The only requirement for interested tutors is to commit themselves to meeting once or twice a week with their student. Tutoring generally takes place at a neutral location such as a church, school or library. According to the program's website, "Previous teaching experience is not required. If you read, write and care, you can help."

If interested in referring a student to the program, or are looking for general information, please contact the literacy program at (570) 297-3375 or e-mail literacy@bradfordco.org. The office is located at 200 Main St. Suite 5 in Towanda.