Federal earmark enables program expansion

Jun 7, 2022Articles

Last month, the Office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced that Literacy Pittsburgh was approved for federal dollars to support the expansion of services focused on helping the low-wage workforce develop essential skills, make and execute career plans, and enter job training programs that are on-ramps to middle-skills jobs. The program is designed to help low-wage workers attain family-sustaining careers and contribute to the overall economic recovery. Literacy Pittsburgh proposed expansion in three areas.

Digital Literacy
Digital skills are essential in the modern workforce; yet, an estimated 1 in 3 American workers lack the digital skills necessary to thrive in the current economy. Across the US, jobs requiring digital skills are expected to increase by 12 percent by 2024 (Urban Institute) and Pennsylvania is no exception. While recent efforts to expand broadband and 5G access are welcome and essential, the benefits will be lost on those without the skills required to engage in a digital world. Funding will support student equipment, including laptops and mobile hot spots for adult learners as they study with Literacy Pittsburgh to attain basic and digital literacy skills. Expanded instructional offerings will include stand-alone digital literacy classes as well as digital literacy assessments, curricula, and teacher and tutor professional development. 

Career Development Services
Adult learners need support to determine their next steps, including career exploration, planning, and education and job training navigation. Expanded programming will enable Literacy Pittsburgh to support these needs and supplement the services offered through the CareerLink system, which are often just beyond the grasp of adult education participants.  Career exploration, planning, counseling, and preparation can be offered to more students.  

Innovative Workforce/Adult Basic Education Partnerships
Adults who participate in integrated job training and education programs are more likely to persist, complete quickly, and advance to family-sustaining careers. Literacy Pittsburgh will partner with job training programs to combine adult basic skills, digital literacy, and English language learning with technical training. We will support and build on existing programs in construction and health care, as well as technology, banking, and other industries.  

Detailed guidelines will be coming in the months ahead. Funds are anticipated to be released in the first half of 2023. We are grateful to Senator Casey for his commitment to helping Pennsylvanians meet the educational and employment challenges of today and in the years to come. Literacy Pittsburgh’s award is part of $11.7 million in funding championed by Senator Casey to support programs focused on workforce development, education, public health infrastructure, and broader access to medical care in Pennsylvania. 

Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped more than 4,000 individuals acquire the skills needed to reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, digital literacy, English language learning, math, reading, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.       

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