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June 8, 2000

Governor Announces New Federal Funds For Adult Education and Literacy Highlighted

Springfield - Governor George H. Ryan today announced to his Advisory Council on Literacy that adult education and literacy programs in Illinois will benefit from nearly $1.5 million in new grants from the US Department of Education.

"Adult education and literacy has been a top priority of my administration," Ryan said. "With these grants, the State of Illinois will be better positioned to meet the adult education and literacy needs of individuals and of employers in this prosperous economy." Illinois was awarded English Language and Civics Education grants that will assist adult education programs in Illinois in two ways.

Illinois will receive $1,285,269 for local adult education programs, the 6th largest in the nation. The award is based on the need for services as shown by Immigration and Naturalization Service data regarding immigrants admitted for legal permanent residence. Two Illinois adult education projects, Illinois Connections and Bright Ideas, will also benefit from English Language and Civics Education grants that will be allocated straight from the federal government to local demonstration projects to develop model English language instruction.


Illinois Connections is a partnership of the Governor's Office, The Adult Learning Resource Center, the Secretary of State's Literacy Office, the Elgin YMCA, Township High School District 214, and the Waubonsee Community College. The project will establish state level and local partnerships to determine the barriers that limited English speaking (LEP) adults face in accessing community services; and the challenges community agencies and offices face in assisting these community members. A civics education program and curriculum will be designed to respond to these issues by preparing LEP adults to readily utilize community resources and by training community agency staff on effective practices in serving LEP adults.


Bright Ideas is a unique collaboration between a coalition of community-based organizations serving ethnic groups (CLESE) and a minority-owned research and technical assistance firm specializing in hard-to-serve populations (Aguirre International). The Bright Ideas project is a collaboration that focuses on training community teachers who to teach literacy and communication skills needed for self-sufficiency, citizenship and civic engagement. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, the intent is to help project participants enter the mainstream of our community life by developing tools such as "a proficiency in English and some knowledge and appreciation of what is means to be an American." Twelve grants were distributed nationwide, with 2 being awarded to programs in Illinois. A total of 165 applications were received for these very competitive grants.

In addition, a consortium of state agencies, led by the Governor's Office, has been awarded an Even Start Family Literacy Initiative grant that will allow Illinois to define family literacy, establish performance indicators, and develop program evaluation measures. This is a two-year grant with a first year funding total of $247,880. Family literacy programs in Illinois are important because as they assist adults in acquiring the basic skills they need to help their children succeed in school. Parents have the opportunity to participate in adult education and literacy instruction, while also receiving parenting education and an opportunity to do activities with their children. The children are enrolled in an educational program, as well.


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