Month: March 2019

LiteracyCNY participates in #LiteracyLiftsNewYork Rally

New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy

For Immediate Release
March 4th, 2019

Ariel Savransky, UJA-Federation of New York, 203-722-3713
Lena Cohen, United Neighborhood Houses, 802-558-4655

New Yorkers Rally for State Investment in Adult Literacy Hundreds Slated to Lose Classes in Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal Albany – Over 100 New Yorkers rallied Monday morning on the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capital Building to save their adult literacy classes and advocate for increased investment in these crucial programs. According to the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) – a collection of nonprofit community based organizations, libraries and CUNY branches that provide English language and other adult literacy programs – the Governor’s 2019-20 Executive Budget proposal contains a $1.5m funding reduction that will eliminate literacy classes for hundreds of students throughout the State. Advocates say that without these classes, immigrants and other adult learners are unable to get better jobs, attend college, or participate in their children’s education. Joining them were Assembly Members Ron Kim, Patricia Fahy and Yuh-Line Niou, Senator Jessica Ramos and a number of Senate and Assembly supporters, literacy partners from Syracuse and Albany and immigrants, adult learners, educators and their allies. These proposed cuts, coupled with changes at the Federal level, may result in thousands of students no longer able to benefit from their current educational programs. For low-income adults, the education they need as a first step to securing employment and successful entry into the job market will be less accessible. Literacy programs provide a pathway to economic mobility, social integration, parent-child engagement, improved health outcomes and improved community safety. According to NYCCAL any action to eliminate adult literacy classes would be harmful to the individuals and families working toward self-improvement.

Elected Official Remarks:
Assemblymember Ron Kim said, “It is time the Governor recognize the vital importance of adult literacy education (ALE) for over 3.5 million New Yorkers and stop cutting funding for ALE from his annual executive budget proposals. ALE students and advocates should not be forced to fight tooth and nail just to protect the progress they made in previous years – especially not under a unified government. The gap between the amount needed for proper language education services versus the state allotment is unacceptable. Adult literacy programs provide a path to economic mobility and social integration for countless people, and we absolutely must increase ALE funding to meet this growing need.”
Assemblymember Pat Fahy said, “Adult literacy education (ALE) provides new English language learners and new Americans with a vital resource – literacy classes where there is an opportunity to comprehensively learn the English language. For all adults, but especially New York’s new Americans, literacy skills are key to employment, community integration, and entering the workforce. New YorkState’s economy is strengthened by increasing access to classes for learning the English language.”

Coalition Member Remarks
“Proficiency in English is essential to fully partake in the economic, social, and civic aspects of our society. However, settlement houses and other providers of adult literacy classes can only meet 3% of the massive and growing need at current funding levels,” said Lena Cohen, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses. “New York State must invest in Adult Literacy Education so more immigrants can access the essential courses and services they need to build better lives for themselves and their families.”
More than ever, New York needs to fully fund its adult literacy programs to safeguard and expand opportunity for immigrant communities. The literacy and basic skills that participants gain through these programs are critical to employment opportunities and economic mobility, school performance, health, and community safety. It’s critical that New York step up for these vital services. Our centers depend on this funding to drive the work we do. –Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
“State funding cuts for Adult English language learners on Long Island will set the immigrant community behind on progress gained in recent years, eliminating funding that once provided classes to thousands of adults on Long Island will abandon them in the midst of their journey towards the American dream. With more than 526,000 immigrants on Long Island, making up approximately 40% of Nassau and Suffolk County residents, funding for free or low-cost ALE classes is essential to improving the overall wellbeing of Long Island communities. At CARECEN’s Pathway to English program, students are not only gaining valuable cultural and civic knowledge, their literacy and language education is crucial to building strong families, encouraging financial independence, reducing poverty and vulnerabilities, paving the way toward greater opportunities. However, we must close this gap between low-literacy learners, secondary education, and workforce development through ALE and multi-generational initiatives so that no one is left behind.” -Becca Reed, ESOL Services Coordinator, Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)
“There are more than 60,000 adults in Onondaga County with limited literacy and English proficiency. We have one of the highest percentages of families living in inter-generational poverty in the country. Combined, adult education programs serve less than 10% of the eligible population because resources are so scarce. ALE funding allows LiteracyCNY to enroll more than 460 adults per year into its instructional programs. If ALE funding is not fully restored or increased this year, we will have to cut enrollments in half.” – Marsha L. Tait, Executive Director of LiteracyCNY
Ariel Savransky, an Advocacy and Policy Advisor at UJA-Federation of New York, said, “Literacy programs are critical tools for adults with limited English proficiency. In this uncertain political climate and with the anticipated loss of federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding, those most in need of adult literacy programs may no longer have access to them. We urge the Governor to invest in Adult Literacy Education, which coupled with increased State funding for the nonprofit sector’s workforce and infrastructure, will allow our network of nonprofit agencies to continue to provide these essential services to the individuals who need them and give them every opportunity to thrive.”
“22% percent of New York State residents suffer from low literacy, severely limiting their quality of life and often leading to unemployment, poverty, health issues, and even incarceration. Thousands of adult students are supported by Adult Literacy Education (ALE) dollars in the Rest of State region each year. This investment in adult education results in higher salaries, enhanced job security, increased tax revenues, reduced correctional costs and decreases the drain on social program services. Without this critical funding, we can’t offer these adults the help they need to lead healthier, more productive and engaged lives as parents, workers, and New Yorkers.” -Kathy Houghton, Interim Executive Director, Literacy New York