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What is adult education?

Adult education and literacy is much more than just reading. Today, most jobs that will sustain a family require some post-secondary qualifications. The basic adult skills include:

Why is Mayor Kenney signing an executive order on new changes within the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy (MCOL) as well as its name change to the Office of Adult Education?

When MCOL was established in 1983, one of the primary challenges facing adults entering the workforce was the inability to read. Today, literacy means more than reading. Literacy means  reading, writing, numeracy, digital and technology proficiency, problem solving and critical thinking and workforce and workplace skills.

In 2014 MCOL launched myPLACE℠, which stands for Philadelphia Literacy & Career Education. MCOL’s development of myPLACE℠ as Philadelphia’s adult education system was a major step forward for the City. Adult learners now have a centralized system for finding the education programs and services they need. Also, in the last few years MCOL has managed the KEYSPOTs for the City, promoting digital skills and providing numerous communities with free access to the Internet. Meanwhile, MCOL has maintained involvement with opportunity youth, returning citizens and the workforce development system.

The ability to read, write and speak English, and the more complete meaning of adult literacy, all fall within adult education,. The expansion and name change of MCOL to the Office of Adult Education reflects the ongoing work of this office to address and meet many of the challenges facing Philadelphia’s adults as they look to start in jobs that pay family sustaining wages, and engage in all aspects of civic life and democracy.

What was MCOL charged to do?

Since 1983, MCOL has worked to equip all adults in Philadelphia with the education they need for work, family and civic engagement. MCOL was charged to work on behalf of more than 80 literacy and workforce development programs to help the estimated 550,000 adults in the City who need to develop their workforce literacy skills; prepare to compete in our knowledge based economy; complete secondary education; and prepare to participate in post-secondary programs.

What will the Office of Adult Education continue to do?

From January 2014 through August 2016 OAE has signed up 10,920 adult learners in Philadelphia for intake and assessment appointments at four myPLACE℠ Campuses. myPLACE℠ offers a variety of Adult Basic Education (ABE), Adult Secondary Education (ASE), English as a second language (ESL) and career development classes in their neighborhood or online with myPLACE℠ Online. In addition to myPLACE℠ and myPLACE℠ online, OAE has a total of 42 myPLACE and volunteer partners citywide.

OAE also manages 50 KEYSPOTs throughout Philadelphia. KEYSPOTs are free community based public computer centers where learners can access open Internet hours, trainings and programs and other digital skill opportunities. The Office of Adult Education also provides training and technical assistance to the KEYSPOT centers and their staff.

Professional Development and Volunteer Training 

OAE provides professional development for adult education practitioners as well as technical assistance and support for literacy programs. OAE recruits, trains and places volunteers to serve as adult literacy tutors and mentors in partner agencies throughout Philadelphia. In Fiscal Year 2016 OAE trained 445 volunteers in ABE, ASE, ESL and Mentoring.

Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance 

The Office of Adult Education convenes the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance (the Alliance), a membership organization that brings together more than 200 active members of the adult education community who provide, coordinate, fund, and support adult literacy and workforce development programs.

The Alliance supports the delivery of quality services to adult learners by encouraging collaboration among its members and developing partnerships to leverage resources. The Alliance is also an active voice for public policies that help Philadelphians qualify for family sustaining jobs, secondary and post-secondary education.

Who are Philadelphia’s adult learners?

Philadelphia’s adult learners are seeking quality education and increased opportunities to support both their personal and career advancements.

The Office of Adult Education serves adult, out-of-school Philadelphians, age 16 and up, whose literacy skills as defined above are too low to pass employment or college entrance tests. Over 80% of job seekers tested in employment centers called PA CareerLink® are functioning at 5th-8th grade levels of reading, writing and math. Employment tests for good jobs and job training are often set at 10th-grade reading, writing and math; entrance to post-secondary training and education cannot be attained if skills are below this level. Many adults who have a high school diploma or GED® fail these tests and need refresher programs to prepare for jobs and post-secondary testing.

An estimated 200,000 people with criminal records live in the community. Thousands more return to the community each year from correctional institutions where they are testing even lower than average citizens on reading, writing, and math, most often at 0 to 3rd grade levels. Enrolling these citizens in education programs not only adds credentials to their resumes, it demonstrates their work-readiness and willingness to take responsibility for their futures.

People who have worked for years, but have lost their jobs because of changes in their industries, often lack the technology skills that are now basic requirements not only on the job, but even to search and apply for jobs.

What are immediate next steps for the Office of Adult Education?

NEW myPLACE℠ Campus 

This fall, OAE opens a new myPLACE℠ Campus at Southwest Community Development Corporation (SWCDC). This new campus will be open 15 hours weekly. As with the current four campuses, this campuses will provide intake, assessment and enrollment of adult learners into adult literacy and ESL classes with our partner agencies citywide.

How big is the population to be served in Philadelphia?

An estimated 550,000 adults in Philadelphia, nearly 50%, lack the educational tools, skills and credentials they need to fully enter into the workforce and strengthen the economy.

Why is adult literacy important to the City of Philadelphia?

What is the return on investment of teaching adults the skills they need to get a job, keep a job, and advance in a career?

An investment of $5,000 to raise an average Philadelphia adult’s education levels enough to qualify for a good job will be returned in $6,750 in tax revenues and public expense benefits each year. Adults working in family-sustaining jobs will:

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