ADVANCE YOUR CAREER
Certified Literate Community Program = Economic Development
Results of the 2000 Census indicate that 21.4% or over 1 million Georgia residents 25 and older do not have a high school diploma. Approximately 40% of that 21.4%, or 393,000 adults, have less than a ninth grade education. A U.S. Department of Labor study revealed literacy problems in the southeast cost employers nearly $57.2 billion annually and in Georgia that study found low literacy skills in the workplace are costing employers 2.1 billion annually.
For many generations Georgians found employment in industries ranging from textiles and mines to fishing and farming. Today, to remain competitive in a global marketplace, businesses and industries in manufacturing and service sectors are rapidly converting to complex, technology-driven processes. The resulting opportunities require workers who hold, at a minimum, a high school or GED diploma for entry level employment.
The greatest barrier to economic development and growth is the absence of a literate workforce. The Georgia solution for reaching adults effectively is the Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP). Created in 1990 by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the Georgia Council on Adult Literacy (GCAL), CLCP asks a community to establish a non-profit collaborative to promote, support and enhance community literacy efforts locally. Communities participating in the program analyze community needs, create awareness of the needs, ensure that learning opportunities are offered and evaluate progress so that the majority of citizens needing to improve their skills do so within 10 years. A network is formed to coordinate business, church, volunteer, social service, local government and schools, media and other efforts in the community to reach, influence and support those who want to improve their education.
There are 62 CLCPs encompassing 78 counties and 2 cities. These 62 programs are made up of 32 CLCP Participants (first level of certification) and 30 Certified Literate Communities (second level of certification). The 32 Participants collectively have made the commitment to serve 245,297 individuals. The 30 Certified Literate Communities made the commitment to serve 163,346 and served 211,307. Every one exceeded their goal and most did it in less than 10 years. Annually, CLCPs now secure over $2 million for their programs and an additional $1.8 million in in-kind resources.
CLCPs have provided the funding to build adult learning centers, they address transportation and child care needs, provide materials, equipment, tutors, additional class locations and GED scholarships. CLCPs manage local “Dictionary Projects”, after school homework programs and school reading initiatives. They work with students in high school to prevent drop-outs. They promote adult literacy services, recruit and retain adult literacy students in the classes and provide a support system to students and literacy providers alike. Communities with CLCPs are able to have more workplace programs as well as higher enrollment, higher retention rates and more graduations for adult education students.
CLCPs are about economic development, workplace skills, parents able to help their children with their homework, people able to understand and follow prescription medicine directions for themselves and their children, being able to read a map or road sign, immigrants acquiring English language skills and anyone acquiring computer skills. CLCP is about lifelong learning and acquiring a new skill at any point in life.In its implementation, CLCP has shown that communities can influence citizens to improve their individual lives, while they make their communities better places to work and live. The Certified Literate Community Program is proving that given a sense of mission and direction, a community can become a powerful, self-managed force for literacy.