Adult Basic Education

The Adult Basic Education Program (ABEP) provides individual tutoring for adult immigrant and refugee English Language Learners. In addition, the ABEP also serves adults whose goal is to pass Iowa’s high school equivalency test (the HiSET) by offering basic math, reading, and writing instruction. CMC also offers tutoring and group classes to those who wish to pass the U.S. Citizenship Interview/Test. The ABEP’s completely free, one-on-one approach to adult education is unique to Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

Education Breaks the Cycle of Poverty

The ABEP works to empower adults to advance in their economic situation through improved English language and academic skills. Studies indicate that nearly two-thirds of low-wage immigrant workers do not speak English proficiently. Immigrants who speak English fluently may earn 17 percent more than those who do not, after adjusting for socioeconomic factors such as education and work experience.  On a February 2014 survey, 45% of CMC students stated that they earned more money after attending classes at CMC.

The ABEP students demonstrate a strong desire to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Classes at CMC equip students to communicate more effectively, pursue higher education, progress in their employment, and more deeply integrate and participate in the community.

How ABEP Works

CMC recruits and trains community volunteers to teach adult students one-on-one through curriculum provided by the Center. Students work at an individualized level and pace with a tutor in order to:

  • Improve English language skills
  • Gain basic academic skills (reading, writing, and math) to prepare for the HiSET
  • Prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Interview/Test

In addition to one-on-one tutoring, CMC offers ongoing group math classes, biannual Citizenship classes, and an annual financial literacy class. Volunteer tutors facilitate the math classes, and a CMC staff member teaches the Citizenship and financial literacy classes. The Math Lab is an open class. Students can walk in and start the class at any time. Registration is required for the group Citizenship classes. Please call (319) 731-0444 to register. The group math, Citizenship, and financial literacy classes are offered as follows:

Math Lab (ongoing, year-round)

Wednesdays 5 pm – 7 pm

Saturdays 10 am – 12 pm

U.S. Citizenship Interview/Test Preparation Class (biannual)

Fall session – Saturdays in October & September (call for exact dates and times)

Spring session – Saturdays in March & April (call for exact dates and times)

Financial Literacy Class (annual)

Spring Session – Thursday mornings in March or April (call for exact dates and times)

Flexible Program Hours

Hourly individualized one-on-one tutoring is scheduled:

  • Monday and Wednesday 8 am – 8 pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday 8 am – 7 pm
  • Friday 8 am – 12 pm
  • Saturday 9 am – 12 pm

By the Numbers

In FY13 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) the Adult Basic Education Program achieved the following results:

  • 291 active students (4 or more study hours) from 40 countries. The countries most largely represented among CMC students are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Vietnam, China, and South Korea.
  • 94% of active students studied English and/or U.S. Citizenship
  • Students studied 9342.5 hours at CMC

Become a Volunteer Today

Your contribution to the Adult Basic Education Program is essential, as volunteers provide 80% of the hours of instruction to students. You do not have to have previous training or teaching experience in order to be an effective tutor at CMC. The minimum requirements for a volunteer tutor are:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma, or equivalent
  • Commit to a minimum of one hour per week for ten weeks
  • Attend a two-hour tutor orientation

Volunteer tutors find their experience rewarding and invigorating. Tutors participate in the program for an average of three years.

If you are interested in volunteering as a tutor, you can sign up for an upcoming orientation through our website, or call (319) 731-0444, or email the Education Program (