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Do a Needs Assessment

A needs assessment answers the question: “How much does my community need this service?”

Make sure there is an actual need for a new literacy organization in your community.  

Start with these questions: 

  • Is this service necessary to my community? 
  • Will the community be willing to support my organization?
  • Who are the potential clients for this service? 
  • How will we identify and recruit clients? 
  • Are there other agencies providing similar services in my area?
  • How long will this service be needed in my community? 

Collect answers to these questions with focus groups.  Gather 8-10 people with diverse backgrounds to discuss the questions.  Consider more than one focus group.  Focus groups will help you understand if people in your community see a need for literacy services and are willing to support such services.  

Market research will help identify your potential clients and where to connect with them.  For example, look at school district statistics for enrollment numbers of children for whom English is not the primary language spoken at home, or for the number of high school drop-outs. You can also talk to business owners and employers to see if they have hired employees with limited English proficiency or limited basic skills.

Use information from focus groups and community interviews when you:

  • apply for tax-exempt status (state your case for your nonprofit)
  • submit funding proposals
  • identify stakeholders and supporters, some of whom will be on your Steering Committee or Board of Directors