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Strengthen Philadelphia through Adult Education this Giving Tuesday

25 November 2014

The U.S. has a day for giving thanks And two for getting deals. Now, we have Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

This Giving Tuesday, The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy asks individuals, employers, and funders to join its Investing in Adult Education Pays campaign so that tens of thousands of Philadelphians can gain the educational tools, skills and credentials they need to fully enter into the workforce and strengthen the economy.

The widening economic divide and changing industries have left hundreds of thousands of low-skilled Philadelphia job seekers stranded outside of the knowledge-based economy. Nearly half of Philadelphia’s adults lack the basic education and work-ready skills for family-sustaining jobs. This contributes to the city’s high poverty rate and places a burden on the entire regional economy. An average of 500 Philadelphians turn to The Commission each month for the help they need to qualify for good jobs.  67% of those assessed (with and without high school diplomas) test at the 4th-8th grade equivalent in reading, writing, and math. Employment, college placement, apprenticeships, and certification program placement tests are increasingly set at 10th-grade levels, and assume fluency in using computers. Most jobs that will sustain a family require not just a diploma, but also technology skills and post-secondary attainment.

In response, The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy (The Commission) created a citywide, technology-based system called myPLACE™ that can educate our workforce for 21st-century jobs on a large scale. myPLACE™ served over 3,000 adult learners in its pilot phase. myPLACE™, which stands for Philadelphia Literacy and Adult Career Education, leverages the power of technology to accelerate adult learning in a centralized, citywide system.  Currently, three myPLACE™ campuses offer registration, assessment, enrollment, and case management support. In addition, 23 partner literacy organizations deliver face-to-face classes in adult basic education (ABE), English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED® preparation.

myPLACE™  Online offers the nation’s first completely online, cohort-based classes in reading, writing and math for low-literate adults. myPLACE™ learners are improving their computer skills as they learn basic education. The Commission’s online offerings have increased the city’s publicly-funded adult classes by 43% at half the cost of face-to-face instruction.

The City of Philadelphia supported the costs to launch the myPLACE™ system, but now we need your help to continue the work. The Commission now calls on individuals, the business and philanthropic community to invest their time, talents, and resources as donors, program sponsors, and volunteers to scale up this project, the first in the nation that rapidly moves adults to their career goals.

Adult education is a high-yield investment. A one-time expenditure of only $5,000 that qualifies one adult for a good job returns $6,750 to the City and Commonwealth in tax revenues and reduced dependency on public benefits each year. By building a skilled workforce, Philadelphia can attract enterprise, grow businesses, and stabilize neighborhoods. Educated adults who earn family-sustaining wages have more local spending power, provide for their families, and instill a value for learning in their children. Support the work of The Commission this Giving Tuesday for a brighter future for Philadelphia. Give back this Giving Tuesday, donate here.

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