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Federal funding will expand career support

Feb 7, 2023Articles

Literacy Pittsburgh has been awarded federal funding for its Ready & Relevant program to support the expansion of services to help low-wage workers advance into better-paying middle-skills jobs. The funding was championed by U.S. Senator Bob Casey.

 Ready & Relevant helps the low-wage workforce develop essential skills, make and execute career plans, and enter job training programs that are on-ramps to more lucrative middle-skills jobs. The program will offer services in Allegheny and Beaver Counties to 1,000 adults over a two-year period.

 “I fought for this award because organizations like Literacy Pittsburgh and its Ready & Relevant program are vital to developing a highly skilled workforce and uplifting some of our most hard-working yet underpaid neighbors. This award will go a long way to support Literacy Pittsburgh’s mission to educate and train workers, uplift their families, and foster growth and development in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the low-wage workforce the hardest, with significant declines in employment. While wages have increased and some entry-level job requirements temporarily waived, the low-wage workforce is both vulnerable to a looming recession and well positioned to skill up and get middle-skills jobs that pay a living wage. The low-wage workforce includes adults who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, including nearly 54,000 adults do not have a high school credential. In addition, 120,000 adults in Allegheny and Beaver counties do not speak English well or at all. 

 Through the Ready & Relevant program, Literacy Pittsburgh aims to help these low-wage workers by:

  • Reducing non-academic barriers to learning and career development
  • Delivering digital skills programming
  • Offering coaching to build and execute career plans
  • Combining basic academic skills with occupational training

 As part of these efforts, the organization will develop and deliver three courses for adults with skills gaps hindering successful employment. These will focus on soft skills, career and workforce preparation, English language learning, and computer skills instruction, along with employer presentations, and interviews leading to employment. Programming will be delivered in partnership of local employers and community organizations such as Jewish Community and Family Services, Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, and UPMC.

 “Literacy Pittsburgh is grateful to Senator Casey for recognizing the important role we and our students play in strengthening the region’s workforce,” said Carey Harris, CEO of Literacy Pittsburgh.  “We have a great group of employer, job training, and education partners that we are proud to work with to help our students move into family-sustaining jobs.”

 The Ready & Relevant initiative is made possible through community project funding from the FY22 federal spending bill. The total cost of the Ready & Relevant program is $1,790,803. $675,000 (38%) is funded through a Federal Community Project grant. The other $1,115,883 (62%) is funded through other public contracts and private donations.

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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