Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

What Does Adult Education Look Like in Pittsburgh?

Literacy Pittsburgh’s mission goes beyond teaching people to read — but that mission remains a pressing concern.



(page 2 of 2)


While hundreds of students pass through Literacy Pittsburgh’s Downtown headquarters daily, the organization accommodates students meeting at locations throughout the region.
 

Program availability is dictated by student demand — most recently, preparation for the citizenship test. “Wherever 10 or more people will come together and commit to having a class, we’ll be there. That’s a flexibility that we’re known for,” Block says.

There is also corporate demand that Literacy Pittsburgh meets via on-site training in workplace literacy, which includes English, math, writing, workplace communication skills and cultural awareness. For instance, the Westin Convention Center hired Literacy Pittsburgh to work with its housekeeping staff. Since then, Block says, the turnover rate has dropped dramatically. It used to be that companies were only willing to entertain such services if they were subsidized. Now, they’re more willing to front the cost, since the payoff is high.

Literacy Pittsburgh students have a few options for the organization’s flagship programs. Classes in the Downtown office are taught by staff members. Groups and one-on-one opportunities are available throughout the community by more than 650 volunteers, who are trained and monitored by coordinators for quality control. The program also hosts 22 Compass AmeriCorps members, who provided 38,000 hours of service last year. More than 200 community partnerships — with libraries, churches, coffee shops and other locations — provide space and additional resources for volunteers and students. 

Even with all of this support, there is still a 200-person waitlist. “It’s very much a hidden issue to a lot of people,” Block says.


In addition to teaching reading and writing skills, Literacy Pittsburgh offers a range of training including career counseling and immigrant services.
 

Nationally, approximately 15 percent of adults struggle with low literacy or English language skills. About 40 percent do not have the necessary skills for postsecondary education, which can also keep them from career advancement. In Pennsylvania, 700,000 adults of working age (18 to 65) do not have a high school diploma. At a hearing in Harrisburg, Block asked state legislators, “Do you want to condemn those people to public assistance, or do you want them to become productive adults?”

According to research from the National Institutes of Health, the mother’s reading skill is the most significant predictor of a child’s future academic performance. A high school equivalency diploma can increase earnings potential by $378,000 over a lifetime. In a January 2017 op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Block wrote, “Adult education results in smaller numbers of people on public assistance, food stamps, unemployment compensation and other government benefits. One study says the return to the economy is $8 for each dollar invested.”
 
While all of Literacy Pittsburgh’s programs are free to the 4,500 students served each year, the annual cost to the organization for each student is $625. By the study’s metric, that’s a $22.5 million economic return.
 
A colleague of Block’s described adult education as “double-duty dollars.” When a child sees a parent learning, that child retains the importance of studying in their own education. Family literacy programs give parents not only the opportunity to better their own education, but also to do so at the same time as their young children, which removes the childcare barrier. “It becomes a kind of parenting education as well as literacy,” says Block. “Now they’re learning how to play and teach their child.”

“It’s really apparent when we’re able to see the impact that the organization has,” Singery says. Literacy Pittsburgh boasts that 74 percent of students report increased confidence with their English, reading, writing or math skills; after 50 instructional hours, 71 percent show improvement on standardized tests.

“Every time we’re able to provide services to these individuals, they’re able to come out on the other side stronger economically,” he says. “We can slowly help raise the tide of success and go back to our mission — better lives through learning — one student at a time.”  

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Enjoying memories is fun – but a far cry from pining for the past.

Perspectives: Finding Grace in #MomLife

A Pittsburgh television reporter learns to embrace the imperfection that comes with being a working mom.

The 400-Word Review: Pledge

IFC Midnight's collegiate terror tale is mostly for genre fans, but it lands a few decent punches.

Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Head coach Jeff Capel is restoring respectability and re-establishing the relationship between Pitt’s students and Pitt’s student athletes.

Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

A skeptical novice takes in the troupe's "Corteo" production and is stunned at his own delight.

Three Rivers Champion: Julius Boatwright

Boatwright works to connect everyone who needs it with mental health support.

Turkey Devonshire: Reviving a Classic Pittsburgh Sandwich

The once-famous sandwich originated here but now is largely forgotten. We dive into its history and argue that it's time for a revival.

Navigating the Future of Public Transit in Pittsburgh

Six Pittsburghers share their struggles and hopes for the region’s public transit system.

Why Jamison Farm Is a “A Napa Valley for Sheep”

How a former coal miner and his wife use the resources atop rolling Westmoreland County hills to produce the best lamb in the United States.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Fish nor Fowl

The sixth standalone concept from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, is DeShantz’s most exciting restaurant yet.

Our 50 Years: When We Tried to Predict the Future

25 years ago, we predicted what the Pittsburgh of 2019 would look like. We were ... close?

Help Pay Tribute to a Pittsburgh Jazz Legend

Mary Lou Williams began as a teenage piano prodigy in the Hill District and made it to Carnegie Hall and beyond. This month, you can discover her musical legacy.

Their's was a Starry-Eyed Pittsburgh Romance

John Brashear dedicated his life to science — and his wife, Phoebe.

She Became Pittsburgh Radio Royalty by Making Music Matter

Rosemary Welsch, longtime DJ and senior producer at WQEP-FM, has shepherded the station from startup to institution.

He Tries to be a Blessing to Someone Every Day

Doug Williams helps men facing homelessness with hard work — and example.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Our 50 Years: Why I Hate Nostalgia

Enjoying memories is fun – but a far cry from pining for the past.

Comments

New Doc Unearths the Secrets of Moundsville

New Doc Unearths the Secrets of Moundsville

The West Virginia town's varied history and uncertain future are the subject of "Moundsville," which will be screened this week at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Fresh Fest Beerfest Is Set to Return to Pittsburgh

Fresh Fest Beerfest Is Set to Return to Pittsburgh

The country's first black brewfest looks to double in size this year.

Comments

Pittsburgh Chef Moves: Csilla Thackray Headed to Legume Bistro

Pittsburgh Chef Moves: Csilla Thackray Headed to Legume Bistro

Thackray's departure from The Vandal will result in a new menu at that Lawrenceville restaurant.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

Why Did No One Tell Me Cirque du Soleil is Awesome

A skeptical novice takes in the troupe's "Corteo" production and is stunned at his own delight.

Comments

My New Neighborhood Bar is The Birmingham Bridge Tavern

My New Neighborhood Bar is The Birmingham Bridge Tavern

After settling into a new neighborhood, PM nightlife editor Sean Collier sings the praises of his go-to corner bar.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Capel’s Basketball Resurrection Has the Zoo Rocking Again

Head coach Jeff Capel is restoring respectability and re-establishing the relationship between Pitt’s students and Pitt’s student athletes.

Comments

Steelers' Organization Shares Blame for Brown Debacle

Steelers' Organization Shares Blame for Brown Debacle

For years now, the Steelers have been working around Brown’s maladaptive tendencies from Monday through Saturday and throwing him the ball on Sunday and hoping for the best.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Pledge

The 400-Word Review: Pledge

IFC Midnight's collegiate terror tale is mostly for genre fans, but it lands a few decent punches.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Glass

The 400-Word Review: Glass

M. Night Shyamalan's crossover film lands with a splat, as the filmmaker once again can't resist his worst impulses.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pop Culture Touches Made These Weddings Extra Special

Pop Culture Touches Made These Weddings Extra Special

Whether you love all things Disney, “Game of Thrones” or “Star Wars,” there are lots of ways to add some personal — and fun — details into your wedding day.

Comments

It’s a Hockey Wedding in Pittsburgh

It’s a Hockey Wedding in Pittsburgh

This Pittsburgh couple was brought together by their love of hockey — and what better way to celebrate their New Year’s Eve wedding than with an outdoor game?

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Up for Auction: Luxury 200-Acre Ligonier Estate Owned by Former EDMC Exec

Up for Auction: Luxury 200-Acre Ligonier Estate Owned by Former EDMC Exec

Woodmere is one of four high-end properties owned by Robert Knutson scheduled to hit the auction block this week.

Comments

The Top Five HOME Stories of 2018

The Top Five HOME Stories of 2018

Take a look back at the biggest stories to come out of Pittsburgh’s home and design industry.

Comments