There are over 200,000 Philadelphians over the age of 18 that do not have a high school diploma, and as a result, they are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as an individual with a secondary school credential, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey.
The Center for Literacy, which started in 1968 as a volunteer organization, provides classes and tutoring services for 1,600 adults per year. According to the Center, education is key to escaping poverty, and earning a GED can be the first step towards attaining a living wage job and/or gaining entry into a college or technical school.
“Center for Literacy’s services are essential to grow an educated workforce for a growing city through the preparation of adults for the world of work and to be their children’s first and best teachers. Research has shown that the success of child in school is dependent on the level of education of his/her mother,” said Michael Westover, president and CEO of Center for Literacy, in an email. “Without Center for Literacy’s services, Philadelphia will be unable to attract and keep employers and turn its schools around.”
The Center for Literacy offers a variety of classes, including math, reading/writing, social studies and science classes. The program also offers these classes at a variety of levels, including adult basic education, adult secondary education/GED prep, and ESL/English Language Civics (offered at Low, Intermediate and Advanced levels).
The program’s typical student is female, African American, unemployed and low income and/or reliant on public assistance programs, according to the Center for Literacy’s website.
“Tens of thousands of Philadelphians have passed through Center for Literacy’s doors since 1968,” Westover said. “Although it is difficult to track them all, many have gone on to postsecondary education and training, and others have gone on to family-sustaining careers in healthcare and education; Philadelphia’s two biggest industries. At least two have gone on to be published authors.”
The Center is currently enrolling for all of its programs. All prospective students at Center For Literacy go through an initial orientation where they are given standardized tests in order to place them in the correct class level. Orientations take place about three or four times a month, and students typically attend classes twice a week.
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“Literacy is the foundation upon which civilization rests. All arts, industries and trades, from literature to law to architecture and manufacturing, are dependent upon it,” Westover said.
“Philadelphia’s success as a leader among world cities in the 21st century as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries depends on the education of its citizens.”
For more information on how to enroll or volunteer at Center for Literacy, visit www.centerforliteracy.org.
Image via Center for Literacy
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