Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center to Merge and Rebrand as ‘Beyond Literacy’ – Will Become Largest Adult and Family Literacy Non-Profit in Philadelphia to Help Thousands of People Learn Life-Changing Skills – Announcement to be Made During Special Virtual Spelling Bee Fundraiser on April 28th
PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 28) — With a combined 87 years of service to adult learners in Philadelphia, two prominent non-profit organizations, Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center, will officially announce their merger—and a new identity as “Beyond Literacy.” The merger will combine resources and staff to enhance services to an increasing population of adults in Philadelphia who struggle to read and lack math proficiency.
With an estimated 800,000 adults in Philadelphia struggling to read and nearly 1 million adults who lack math proficiency, Beyond Literacy will empower Philadelphia adults who lack literacy and numeracy skills to thrive and contribute to our city’s workforce. Beyond Literacy believes in changes that matter like an average increase in annual income of more than $8,000 for earning a GED. After 18 months of due diligence, Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center is connecting Philadelphia adults to much needed adult education services by integrating operations while awaiting final merger approval from Philadelphia Orphans Court. Name change documentation was recently filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. Following a rebranding process that involved students, staff, board members, donors and funders, the organization will now launch their new name, tag line and logo:
“Our merger is the result of a thoughtful process allowing us to unite complementary strengths and specialties that provide more comprehensive programs to learners of all ages and stages,” said Kimmell Proctor, the new CEO of Beyond Literacy. “We chose ‘Beyond Literacy’ as our dynamic new name to reflect the fact that our inclusive services take striving adults from learning to earning by equipping them with the lifelong literacy skills necessary for family-sustaining careers.”
The education, workforce development, and support programs of Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center have helped adults improve academic and life skills, earn a high school equivalency credential, develop English language proficiency, gain employment, and transition to postsecondary schools and job training programs. In program year 2020, Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center served 1,286 adults: 44% immigrants and 56% native English-speaking students. Of those adult learners who are native English-speaking, 50% entered Center for Literacy and Community Learning Center with reading skills at (or below) a 6th grade reading level.
“Beyond Literacy will do more than provide free educational resources to Philadelphia’s 800,000+ adults who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. It will also deliver the kind of comprehensive family literacy and workforce readiness programs that make it a community-based hub for a broad continuum of services ranging from education and social skills to employment,” said Proctor. As the city’s largest adult and family literacy agency, Beyond Literacy will share three campuses: Center City (located at Peirce College), West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, April 28, between 6:30pm to 6:45pm, the merger will officially be announced during a livestreamed virtual spelling bee on YouTube. The entire event will be available to view from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. [Email contact to request the link to YouTube on April 26 or after].
The Spelling Bee will be hosted by the creators of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and will feature the following special guests and celebrity spellers:
- Gisele Barreto Fetterman, Brazilian-American activist, philanthropist, non-profit executive, and current Second Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Charlotte Blake Alston, Nationally acclaimed storyteller, narrator, instrumentalist, librettist and singer
- Scott Greer, Renowned Local Actor
- Helen Gym, Philadelphia Councilmember At-large
- Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office
- Ronnie Polaneczky, Editor of The UpSide, The Philadelphia Inquirer
The virtual event is hosted by two veterans in improv and comedy: Rebecca Feldman, who plays host Barbara Weingust, who helped develop The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Jay Reiss who appeared in the first Broadway production and reprises his role as Vice Principal Douglas Panch.
Sponsors of the Spelling Bee include Exude, Firstrust Bank, PECO and Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. The Nonprofit Repositioning Fund is a contributor to the merger and the William Penn Foundation is a contributor to the strategic planning process that will allow the merged organization to identify its priorities and objectives for growth.
About Beyond Literacy
History of our merged organization
Center for Literacy was born as a volunteer tutoring program in 1968, and given the high demand for adult education, it quickly expanded to other areas of the city to provide free literacy, GED® preparation, and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Community Learning Center was founded in 1987 by Jean Fleschute for adults who had not finished high school. In 1994, Community Learning Center became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
The mission of Beyond Literacy is “to expand opportunities and improve lives by unleashing the power of literacy through free, high-quality education.”
Current services provided
Beyond Literacy offers cost-free college and career readiness classes for individuals who are English Language Learners (including Citizenship preparation), for individuals who have low levels of literacy or need a high school diploma, and for individuals facing substantial cultural barriers to employment.
Additional services include:
- Digital literacy and computer skills training.
- Family Literacy services to immigrant families in School District of Philadelphia elementary schools.
- Adult Basic Education and ESL classes for adults at City-designated Community Schools.
- Career readiness through PA CareerLink upskilling classes.
A pre-apprenticeship program for Energy Technicians in partnership with PECO and PGW.
Facts about Adult Literacy
In April 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released an interactive mapping tool comparing State and County Indicators of Adult Literacy and Numeracy based on 5 years of data—indirect estimates of 1,170,200 Philadelphians, ages 16-74. The indicators say:
- 32% of Philadelphian adults lack basic literacy; another 37% are only nearly proficient in reading. That adds up to more than 800,000 Philadelphia adults who struggle to read.
- The math stats are even worse: 49% of adult Philadelphians lack basic math skills; another 29% are not quite proficient in math. That’s nearly 1 million Philadelphia adults who struggle to perform tasks requiring anything higher than basic level math.
In a 2020 Fact Sheet, ProLiteracy explains the link between low literacy and earnings, poor health and incarceration.
Coverage of the Spelling Bee
Coverage of the virtual event is invited. [Email contact to request the link to YouTube on April 26 or after].