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Faith Leaders Initiative Meeting

2 October 2014
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On Wednesday, October 1, The Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (MOFI) invited faith leaders to a breakfast meeting to discuss adult low-literacy in Philadelphia. Local faith leaders learned about The Commission’s new myPLACE adult education initiative and how their faith-based institutions can collaborate with The Commission to bring the valuable adult education resource to their communities.

Reverend Dr. Malcolm Byrd, Interim Director, MOFI, opened the meeting with welcoming remarks and invited Le’Roi L. Gill, Chaplain at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, to lead a blessing. Next, Rev. Malcolm Byrd introduced Leslie Stiles, Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. Ms. Stiles expressed her pride in supporting The Commission since 2011, saying she believes ” adult literacy is the economic engine of Philadelphia.” She then played a video featuring adult learners and educators to provide an overview of The Commission’s work. At the conclusion of the video, Ms. Stiles introduced Dr. Judith Rényi, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy.

Dr. Rényi began with announcing the launch of The Commission’s campaign that will run October 1 to the end of 2014. The campaign will spread awareness about the important role that building a skilled, educated workforce plays in fighting poverty, and how individuals in Philadelphia can help.  She than presented an overview of The Commission’s myPLACE program and presented staggering data on adult low-literacy in Philadelphia. Of those who come to The Commission for support, 67% are testing at the 4th to 8th grade levels, and 22% are testing at an even lower level. The numbers are even worse than expected. Dr. Rényi then outlined ways that Philadelphia faith leaders can help including: sharing the Commission’s message at the pulpit and calling for support from their congregations, soliciting donations to help adult learners in need, providing space for educational resources such as computer labs or classes, joining the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance, or volunteering as a tutor or mentor. Dr. Rényi then introduced Dr. Naomie Nyanungo, Assistant Director of Adult Literacy Programs, to speak about the ways congregations can partner with The Commission.

Dr. Nyanugo wrapped up the presentation by outlining three services The Commission offers that are available to organizations. Literacy providers can join the ranks of the 30 current Mayor’s Commission on Literacy Partners. These organizations provide seats in their classes for adult learners that are processed through The Commission’s centralized system for assessment and registration, placing learners in classes that best meet their needs. The Commission also provides free training and professional development opportunities for adult educators. Lastly, adult educators are invited to join the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance. The Alliance meets quarterly for professional development, policy discussion, networking, and to share best practices.

Attendees were then invited to express the needs of their community in a short questionnaire and to discuss the ways they can commit to help improve adult literacy rates in Philadelphia.

A special thanks to all who attended the meeting and support The Commission’s efforts to equip all Philadelphia adults with the education they need to succeed in the workplace and beyond.

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