BeLit’s Chief Program & Impact Officer, Dawn Hannah, testified at the Appropriations and Education Committee Joint Public Hearing on School Funding on October 24, 2023.

For millions of Americans, adult literacy programs make the difference between earning a family-sustaining wage and struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Department of Education, adult literacy services are so underfunded that they reach fewer than one million Americans out of the 63 million who are low-skilled in literacy, numeracy, or both.

This silent crisis detracts from quality of life and stymies workforce growth. A 2017 national study estimates raising American adults to the equivalent of a sixth-grade reading level would add $2.2 trillion to U.S. annual income. Without programs like BeLit, many working-age adults are left on the sidelines of an economy that requires more qualified workers in order to grow.

The Pennsylvania Education Tour and hearings are part of an effort to help public schools and get a pulse of the state’s school funding structure. The tour made two stops in Philadelphia: Tuesday at the School District of Philadelphia and Wednesday at the Community College of Philadelphia’s Library and Learning Commons.

Philadelphia House Delegation Chairwoman Morgan Cephas explained that it is critical to examine the issues impacting schools in the city and state in order to find effective solutions that would guarantee fair investments and infrastructure for the schools.

“We needed to hear the testimonies of parents, education experts and community leaders and revisit the root of the issues affecting our schools. This is why these hearings are so important. We are committed to improving this state’s failed school funding model,” Cephas said.

Rep. Jordan A. Harris, House Appropriations Committee chair, indicated that the hearings in Philadelphia addressed key concerns that will drive the necessary changes.

“We know that across Pennsylvania, and especially in Philadelphia, our students are being harmed by inequities that exist in all facets of our educational system,” Harris said.

“These hearings are providing us with a deep dive into everything from charters to facilities to curriculums and so much more, so that we as legislators can go back to Harrisburg and work to improve the unconstitutional way education is funded. This is the time to be innovative and aspirational as we reimage what education could be for Pennsylvania’s students,” he said

Dawn Hannah, BeLit’s Chief Program and Impact Officer, contributed her testimony to the Pennsylvania Education Tour, sharing her own powerful education journey, along with advocating for adult learners and encouraging the committee to immediately boost adult literacy funding and resources.

Click here to watch the full hearing.

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