A report by Philadelphia Works, the city’s workforce development and research agency, states that 52 percent of working-age Philadelphians do not have the literacy skills they need to compete for the majority of jobs available in the city. To tackle this problem, the city has combined its volunteer services and literacy education programming through Tech Tutors.
Tech Tutors is a hands-on digital education program developed by the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Services. Now in its second year, the city is hiring a coordinator to sustain and expand the program. The position being offered through AmeriCorps VISTA.
The Tech Tutor program uses volunteers to work with adult learners to improve their literacy skills through the use of technology. Volunteers work directly with learners in one-on-one sessions, small groups and through various technology platforms.
The coordinator’s responsibilities will include convening community partners on a monthly basis, working closely with city agencies and helping to recruit new adult learners and volunteers.
Community partners include the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, the People’s Emergency Center, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries and Philadelphia FIGHT. Each of these organizations serve as hubs for the program.
Tan Vu, director of the People’s Emergency Center’s (PEC) digital inclusion program, explained how the process work: The Mayor’s Commission Literacy finds and trains the volunteers, he said, and then matches them with one of the partner organizations based on the volunteer’s interest.
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The People’s Emergency Center currently has two Tech Tutors working through its programs. Vu added that the program is flexible enough that it can be tailored for different learners and programs.
Christina Madeha has volunteered as a Tech Tutor through the People’s Emergency Center since January and has worked with 35 adult learners. Her experience has changed how she sees the issue of adult literacy in Philadelphia.
“I have learned that Philadelphia has a diverse group of learners, and the literacy needs are greater than the general public realizes,” Madeha wrote in an email to Generocity. “Many people need assistance and more funds are needed to make these kinds of programs work.”
The application is available here.
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