The Need

A recent study conducted by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) found that one in six adults in the United States has low literacy skills. That is 36 million adults. One in three has low numeracy skills. Read more about the effects of low literacy skills here.


ProLiteracy estimates that low literacy costs the US $225 billion each year due to lack of productivity in the workforce, crime, and the loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. An increase of just 1% in literacy scores leads to a 2.5% rise in labor productivity and a 1.5% rise in GDP per individual (2004 The Economist).

According to a 2005 study by the US Department of Education, 50% of the chronically unemployed are not functionally literate.

How Adult Education Can Help

Studies show that improved reading, math, and computer skills are associated with better wages and more stable employment. Read more here.

A GED® increases earning power and job prospects and opens the doors to higher education and training programs. The job market is shrinking for those without a diploma. A recent study out of Georgetown University projects that by 2018 only 10% of jobs will be available to those without a high school credential; 63% of jobs will require some type of training or education beyond high school.

Better skills also lead to higher rates of civic involvement. A study conducted by Educational Testing Service in 2012 found that 60% of those with low academic skills feel they do have no influence on public decisions and the political process. Better skills are also correlated with increased rates of volunteerism.

English Language Learning allows immigrants to secure family-sustaining jobs and become part of the community. Immigrants who are English proficient earn between 13 to 24% more than immigrants who are not. 60% of immigrants who are eligible for citizenship but do not become citizens have limited English proficiency (2007 Urban Institute).

Educating adults helps children and families too. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that the greatest determinant of a young child’s future academic success is the reading level of the mother.

Our Programs

We serve over 450 participants a year across our core programs of GED® Preparation, Adult Basic Education, ESL (English as a Second Language), Nurse Aide Training, and Workforce Development. We have helped hundreds of students obtain a GED® diploma, improve their reading and math skills, acquire English language proficiency, secure employment as certified nursing assistants, develop workplace skills, enter employment, and prepare for better jobs.

Our Students

Uri Pic

Uri had attended GED classes before but circumstances had always prevented her from accomplishing her goal of getting her GED. When she enrolled in our evening class at Carlisle High School in the fall of 2013, she decided it was time to finish what she started. Uri was unsure of herself and afraid of math, but her instructor, Michelle Wilson, made her feel comfortable. “Michelle gave me extra help after class and helped me with my writing. She even helped me with my resume.” Uri took the GED tests in November and passed them all on her first attempt. After getting her GED, Uri was able to find a better-paying full-time job; she plans to keep working in the administrative office and customer service field.

Mabel picWhen she arrived in the US from Guatemala, Mabel knew some English but needed help to improve her fluency so she could work, navigate daily life, and study to become a US citizen. Mabel enrolled at the Employment Skills Center in the fall of 2011 and began attending ESL classes. She also studied with one of our volunteer tutors. Her hard work and dedication have paid off. She became a US citizen on June 13, 2014. She found work at a local distribution facility and has volunteered as a translator at the Project Share food bank in Carlisle. She hopes to study social work. Her instructor says, “Mabel is a great example of how we can serve the immigrant community and help them establish a good life for themselves here in the US.”

Debbie picDebbie came to the Employment Skills Center after relocating to Carlisle. She was looking for a job and knew that she needed to improve her reading and writing skills. Staff at the Center have assisted Debbie with her resume, cover letter, and job search. “They also helped me read my medical forms and fill out applications on the computer.” Debbie has since found a job and continues to work on her literacy and math skills in the Adult Literacy class. “They did not have any classes like this where I came from,” she says. “This place is truly a blessing.”

Robert picRobert had worked as an Army medic for six years and was always interested in the healthcare field but never had the support or the funding to get started. When he heard about the Nurse Aide Training Program at the Employment Skills Center, he jumped at the opportunity. Robert says the training is “bar none, the best program out there.” It prepared him for his clinical program at HACC better than he had expected and also changed him as a person. “I underwent a transformation during the class,” he says, “and I have lost 90 pounds. I am also a better thinker. The class gave me the tools to accomplish my goals.” Robert earned the highest clinical grades awarded at HACC in the past six years, passed his state licensing exam, and was immediately hired as a CNA at a local facility. He loves his job, and the nursing facility residents request him by name. Robert has met his goal of providing a good life for his   9-month-old child and hopes to study to be a trauma nurse.

Mo picOriginally from Iran and a former resident of Germany, Mo enrolled in our ESL program in the fall of 2012. In less than a year, his English improved six grade levels. Mo soon found full-time work but wanted to further his education and establish a good career. He enrolled in our GED program in May 2013 so he could earn a US high school diploma and further improve his reading and writing skills. Mo attended class 3 times a week, studied with a tutor for an hour after class, and continued to work full-time. In November 2013, Mo successfully completed his GED. He is currently enrolled at Harrisburg Area Community College where he is studying Business Administration. He has earned all A’s in his classes and plans to transfer to Penn State to earn his bachelor’s degree. Mo is grateful for the assistance he has found at the Employment Skills Center and says he is motivated to keep learning “to be an example to my son that getting an education is important.”