“Putting education to work” in Wisconsin

NCFL is always amazed at the stories and strategies of success that come pouring from the National Literacy Directory’s literacy and learning organizations each time it accepts Innovation Grant applications to recognize innovative solutions to persistent challenges. This week and next, we’ll share how this round of Innovation Grant recipients listened to the voices of their communities to create programs that were needed.

Development in the greater Milwaukee area is booming, but the construction jobs created by these projects often remain unfilled due to a lack of a qualified workforce. Milwaukee has a high dropout rate, creating a gap in the pipeline leading to manufacturing and skilled trade jobs. It became clear to Literacy Services of Wisconsin, Inc. that its adult learners and community both needed and wanted an alternative credential that could aid in breaking down barriers to employment.

Earlier this year, Literacy Services set out to create a program that would target undereducated, disadvantaged adults ages 18-40, including minorities, first generation Americans, and refugees, lacking the secondary education credentials needed to enter construction-skilled trades or manufacturing fields. To create and pilot an industry-focused High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) Program, Literacy Services collaborated with community partners such as WRTP/BIG STEP and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to develop curricula and learning modules that will be implemented through its already effective student-tutor educational model. WRTP will provide access to appropriate instructors and employers and test competencies needed to meet academic and workplace requirements. They will also provide a workplace-based environment to test curriculum, recruit employers, and assure program sustainability.

Literacy Services’ HSED program, once completed, will be tailored to the student’s individual abilities and goals and customized to the employer’s specific qualification standards. Literacy Services plans to actively recruit and engage at least 24 students during the pilot program and provide comprehensive training for its volunteer tutors. When successful, this program will create a seamless path for adults to earn one of the many construction jobs in the Milwaukee area.

Literacy Services of Wisconsin, Inc., has provided literacy programming to non-readers and adult learners with low literacy skills in the Milwaukee area since 1965.

Interested in receiving an Innovation Grant from the National Literacy Directory? The next round of applications is currently open and closes on June 9, 2017. This round is to attend ProLiteracy’s Conference on Adult Literacy in September. For more information and to apply, visit http://bit.ly/InnovationGrants7.