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ProLiteracy champions the power of literacy to improve the lives of adult and their families, communities, and societies. In addition to programmatic efforts, ProLiteracy advocates for literacy and adult basic education to keep the need for literacy at the forefront of policy discussions.

ProLiteracy is a national organization that has roots in Syracuse, New York area that date back to the1950s. It has over 1100 domestic member programs, including community-based literacy volunteer programs, ESL programs, Adult basic education programs, and more. Nationally, ProLiteracy offers a range of programming and services, including program accreditation, trainer certification, information and referral services, and professional development opportunities such as the United States Conference on Adult Literacy (USCAL).

Internationally, the organization has 52 partners in over 30 countries. ProLiteracy provides support for these grass-roots service providers encourages the use of literacy education as a means to stimulate social change.

The organization also has its own publishing division: the New Readers Press. They create materials for literacy and adult basic education programs as well as fiction and non-fiction books written for adults who are learning to read. Additionally, New Readers Press publishes a weekly newsletter in print and online called News for You, and software, such as their online GED prep software, GED Practice and Pass.

Currently, ProLiteracy’s activities in Syracuse include partnerships with the North Side Learning Center and the Syracuse Housing Authority Getting Ahead Computer Learning Center. Through the Colvin Center’s Life Links digital literacy initiative, ProLiteracy recently outfitted the North Side Learning Center with an upgraded computer lab to provide their patrons with access to broadband technology and digital literacy instruction. At the Getting Ahead Computer Learning Center, patrons are enjoying access to New Readers Press software and will soon receive upgraded computer workstations. In addition to Life Links, the featured Colvin Center programming includes a cultural responsiveness workshop and a new resident engagement program.

The Case Supply Building in 2010

ProLiteracy is currently located on Jamesville Avenue, near Brighton Avenue and I-481. In May of 2012, the organization will be moving to the former Case Supply building in the Near West Side neighborhood of Syracuse. The organization’s new headquarters will include the Ruth J. Colvin Center for Innovation and Excellence in Adult Literacy, also known as the Colvin Center. The Colvin Center, which is the hub of the organization’s local and regional work, is named after ProLiteracy co-founder and life-long literacy champion, Ruth J. Colvin.

Moving presents plenty of challenges, but the new location will provide the organization with the opportunity to start offering public services to its target audience. The new facilities will include a large technology-enhanced training room which will be available for other organizations to use. The facilities will also include a public access computer lab with 18 workstations.

Most significantly from our point of view, ProLiteracy’s new headquarters will include a public reading room. ProLiteracy already has a resource center on its premises, but the current collection is primarily reference and archives. The new resource center in the Colvin Center will be a lending library. The collection will be comprised of literacy and adult basic education materials, particularly those published by New Reader’s Press.

ProLiteracy’s librarian, Katie Schisa, is an MSLIS graduate of Syracuse University. Schisa is interested in forming partnerships among local libraries, library systems, literacy groups, and adult basic education programs. She sees a lot of overlap in the literacy programs and services offered by these varied institutions. ProLiteracy has expertise in developing materials for literacy programs and adult basic education, so Schisa would like to explore possible collaborations with subject experts to create the best possible content for adult learners.

Katie Schisa

ProLiteracy Worldwide

Librarians may be interested in
ProLiteracy EdNet,
a website aggregating free, online resources
for adult learners
and literacy trainers,
including links to full courses and lesson plans.