Pennsylvanian Adult Education Organization Receives Prestigious National Award From the Coalition on Adult Basic Education

PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Feb. 2024—Beyond Literacy (BeLit), an adult education program based in Philadelphia, has been awarded the Behind Every Employer Incentive Grant by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE), the leading national organization dedicated to advancing the field of adult literacy.

PECO, the largest electric provider in the state of Pennsylvania, was faced with a problem. Only 22% of first-time, entry-level PECO applicants were able to pass the gateway exam, the Construction and Skilled Trades (CAST) test. PECO approached BeLit in an effort to not only increase first-time pass rates, but also to help fill the industry’s talent gap and diversify their mostly white and male workforce.

After meeting to discuss the challenges and develop curriculum, BeLit piloted a 12-week test-prep program for a small cohort of underrepresented, underemployed HSE graduates seeking higher-wage employment opportunities. With an 88% first-time pass-rate and subsequent 100% CAST pass-rate upon completion, BeLit’s program participants were able to interview and apply for PECO entry-level jobs earning full benefits and starting wages of $25-35/hour. From there, BeLit opened up quarterly test-prep programs to the entire community and have successfully sustained and grown the partnership over the last two years.

Kimmell Proctor, CEO of Beyond Literacy, states, “These are life-changing opportunities to enter family-sustaining wage careers with full benefits. Based on the success of the initial cohort, our partnership has expanded into a quarterly test-prep program plus tutoring and interview preparation.”

The results of this partnership were immense. After one full year of partnership, PECO applicants’ first-time pass-rate for CAST test takers rose from 22% to 69%. Plus, 96% of all test-prep program graduates who went on to apply to PECO’s entry-level positions were underrepresented People of Color, including 18% women.

COABE’s mission is to inspire educators so adults succeed and communities thrive. The Coalition on Adult Basic Education provides leadership, professional development and advocacy for our 79,000+ members in the field of adult education. We provide a variety of services, including annual national conferences, a peer-reviewed journal, advocacy tools and over 50 new instructional webinars each year. COABE highlights excellence in the field of adult education by presenting yearly scholarships, incentive grants and prestigious national awards to feature best practices in the field. Learn more at, or contact [email protected].

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