1972 - 2022
50th Anniversary!
BIG News!

Literacy DuPage is proud and delighted to announce the celebration of 50 years in business! 

For five decades, Literacy DuPage has provided free, customized, one-to-one instruction to DuPage County adults interested in learning English and improving their language skills.
This is thanks to our extraordinary tutors, students, staff, board members, other volunteers, donors, and funders over the years, all of whom had meaningful parts to play in creating and sustaining our successful program.
Our 50th anniversary is an extraordinary milestone, a major accomplishment. Thank you for sharing this exciting occasion with us!
The Founding

Friends from Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton and both former teachers, Thelma McPherson and Joanna Grinter founded Literacy Volunteers of America of Central DuPage in 1972. The name was changed to Literacy DuPage some 40 years later. That first year, they served 39 students with 22 tutors.
The Original Budget


$329 Income
$320 Expenses

1974-1975 Goal: $835
A Bit of History

Thelma Stafford McPherson was born on a farm in Gravity, Iowa. She earned her Master’s degree from Iowa State University. As a new teacher, she started out in a one-room schoolhouse in Gravity, just as her mother had.
Later, Thelma taught high school home economics in Iowa and Missouri. While she was teaching in Tarkio, MO, she met Alex McPherson on a blind date. They were married a year later and were together for 58 years.

Thelma and Alex were long-time Wheaton residents. They had Korean friends in Kansas City, who were members of a Christian Evangelical Southeast Asian group. Their daughter – a nurse – moved to the Chicago area, and they asked Thelma to help her develop her English language usage. Thelma turned to her friend Joanna, who had been affiliated with a literacy group out east.
Their interest in helping additional immigrants grew, as they discovered that there was a community need for foreign-born to learn English. In the early 1970’s, there was an influx of East and Southeast Asian refugees to the area, primarily from Korea, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In seeking resources, Thelma learned of Literacy Volunteers of America in New York state, which led to initiating the DuPage County affiliate. In addition to the immigrant population, they also worked with illiterate, native speakers of English.
Since our inception, it is estimated that over 12,000 adults have received English language tutoring.

Throughout this year of celebration, we will share more details and stories of Literacy DuPage’s 50-year journey. Thank you for your support as we continue to serve DuPage County!

Bobbi Burgstone
Executive Director
It will be a year of celebration!