One of the Free Library’s best resources is also one that’s relatively new to the FLP—the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. For 21 of its 27 years, the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy was part of the Mayor’s Office (hence the name). In 2004, the MCOL became part of the Free Library, located on the ground floor of Parkway Central with the Reader Development Program and Interlibrary Loan.
The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy is the umbrella for adult education services in Philadelphia. We don’t provide direct educational services, but we coordinate a variety of services, some of which involve subcontracting with direct-service providing agencies. MCOL programs and services vary between more generalized programs that apply to a wider public and more specialized ones that serve narrower audiences. General programs include an information and referral telephone service that helps adults who are looking to improve their basic skills find a program that works for them. The MCOL also recruits and trains volunteer tutors who we then refer to Philadelphia adult literacy agencies.
More specialized MCOL programs include Move Up, an adult education program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to help them gain the skills they need to find family-sustaining work. The MCOL also launched the College and Career Advancement Program in January 2009. CCAP provides classes in reading, writing, and math for City of Philadelphia employees who want to pursue a college education or advance in their job. A special component of CCAP is career counseling: participants meet with a career counselor for a total of five hours over the course of a twelve week cycle of classes and attend two group workshops on topics related to college success and workplace skills. The MCOL also coordinates the Philadelphia Professional Development Center—a state funded resource that offers comprehensive professional development and ongoing support to adult education agencies. The PPDC offers customized training, practitioner inquiry groups, networking, technology support, observation and feedback, and technical assistance to the agencies and practitioners within the region.
To learn more about these and other initiatives of the MCOL—or for a referral to an adult education program or to volunteer as a tutor, call the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy at 215-686-5250 or visit our website.
--Jim Landers, MCOL Assistant Executive Director