Career accelerator gears up for second cohort

Jan 16, 2021Articles

The moment you begin working with adult learners, you quickly understand that students have a wealth of lived experience and a collection of goals they want to meet. Each goal is set with a personal commitment and pursued with deep foresight for where they want to go. For many students, that goal is a new career.

To help those students fast track their way to success, in October we launched a program that integrates adult education and career services. The Career Accelerator program, offered in partnership with the Jewish Family and Community Services Career Development Center (JFCS CDC), incorporates GED preparation and career services. Nine students recently completed our first 12-week program, and we are recruiting for our second cohort, which will begin February 1.

Career Accelerator meets twice a week for 2.5 hours each time. Students work on mathematics and reading as a class, and participate in accountability sessions with JFCS CDC that focus on career exploration and professional skill-building. Students also have the option to meet one-on-one with a tutor for additional support during Extended Hours, which are offered twice a week by appointment. Ultimately, we support each student towards the successful completion of their High School Equivalency Exam.

"This program has been the best thing I could have done for my whole family,” says Career Accelerator participant Andrea Ponciano, who earned her GED diploma in December.

Literacy Pittsburgh teachers Vivienne McClellan and Luke Fredland created a curriculum that expressly caters to these students, helping them advance their math, reading, and writing skills to succeed in taking the GED exam. Vivienne and Luke offer individualized support to address specific needs students have. At the same time, our partners at JFCS CDC provide expert counseling and wraparound career services.

Additional Literacy Pittsburgh staff are engaged in supporting student success. Digital Literacy Fellow Sara Cole assesses students on their technology skills and offers a workshop to address growth areas. Workplace Skills Manager Andrea Horton-Mericli meets with each student to schedule both GED practice tests and their official tests. She often needs to think critically about how students can be successful within COVID-19 GED Test restrictions.

“The students enrolled in this program have consistently remarked that they wish they could spend more hours with the team because of the outstanding support they have been receiving,” explains College and Career Readiness Coordinator Dan Lampmann. “Proclaiming themselves ‘The Originators’ of the Career Accelerator Program, our first group brought energy and engagement to each class.”

Dan also notes that student feedback will inform how the next cohort will operate. “Their questions, comments, and requests have contributed to the overall organization of the program and we continue to build out supports based on their ideas.”

We are currently recruiting students to participate in the second cohort, and are on track to expand enrollment. Classes are offered online, and if a student needs access to a computer or internet service, we can assist with this.

If you know someone who might be interested in this intensive and rigorous program, please feel free to reach out to Dan Lampmann at

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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