Recently, ProLiteracy teamed up with the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region and Center Against Family Violence (CAFV) in El Paso, Texas, to create a more robust literacy network in a city and county among those with the lowest literacy levels in Texas.
The collaboration is part of the Expanding Access to Adult Literacy Services pilot project, supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
The YWCA Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center (TLC) set up the Adult Education Academy, a GED-oriented program for low-income and homeless students. TLC recruited and trained volunteer instructors and offered classes and tutoring onsite at the TLC, as well as at four housing authority sites and with another transitional living center, La Posada. In the first semester (January–May, 2013), they served 77 low-income and homeless students. The second semester starts in June 2013.
The Center Against Family Violence (CAFV) created the Education Development Program (EDP) and added a GED preparation program, access to computer literacy instruction, and an English-language book club. CAFV recruited students from its domestic violence and sexual assault survivors support program and, at a separate site, from its Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP), which works with aggressors. Between January and May, CAFV served approximately 130 students.
CAFV also contracted with El Paso Community College for instructors to assist students preparing to take the Spanish-language GED test. CAFV is the first agency in the Texas-wide BIPP network to recognize the value of onsite basic education development—as a domestic violence prevention strategy. The second semester started May 1, 2013.
Both TLC and CAFV recruited and supported learners through routine case management activities and through improved coordination of their respective educational offerings.
“Education is critical to helping women who have been homeless or have experienced domestic violence to have more choices for themselves and their families,” says Jane Hugo, senior project coordinator for ProLiteracy. “The successes of the YWCA and CAFV in El Paso demonstrate the need to integrate adult literacy services with other social services.”
In all, three new Expanding Access sites have been established serving undereducated populations, helping a combined total of 250 individuals. In addition to the two sites in El Paso, a third site is in Little Rock, Arkansas. The goal of the Expanding Access project is to develop and demonstrate a model for mobilizing existing service networks and establishing new services to expand adult literacy service capacity in communities of high need.