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Man in a library holding a sign that says "My name is Ana and I am ready to go to college."

Empowering our community through literacy: Ascendium and Literacy Network

In Dane County, Wisconsin, where Ascendium is located, the past decades have witnessed a remarkable surge in immigration (source: New American Economy). Amidst this growth lies a significant challenge — one in seven adults, around 60,000 individuals, struggle with essential English and literacy skills necessary for navigating community life (source: Literacy Network). That’s why we’re grateful for Literacy Network, which empowers these individuals with language skills and opportunities.

Two happy women at at graduation ceremony.

This Image: LaTonya (right) earned her High School Equivalency Diploma at age 51 after working with Literacy Network tutors and Madison College. Top Image: Anas arrived in the U.S. from Morrocco last May. After taking classes with Literacy Network, he is now enrolled at Madison College, where he plans to study programming and then transfer to a four-year university.

Meeting Demand, Unlocking Potential

Literacy Network’s programs are a testament to the transformative power of literacy, opening doors to a world of opportunities for adults seeking to thrive in the workforce, advance their careers, pursue higher education, and actively engage in the community. Despite this noble mission, the current demand eclipses the organization’s capacity, as over 120 eager individuals sat on a waiting list for Literacy Network support as of June 2023. This situation is both a consequence of a notable uptick in immigration and indicative of the critical need for accessible and impactful literacy initiatives in Dane County.

Literacy for Opportunity: A Catalyst for Change

To help Literacy Network address this growing need, we extended a three-year grant totaling $375,000. This funding allows the organization to sustainably expand and strengthen its Literacy for Opportunity programs, which encompass core English language and basic literacy services. These programs, conducted through dynamic group classes and personalized one-on-one tutoring sessions, are not confined to the Learning Center in South Madison but extend their reach to public schools and libraries across Dane County. With our support, Literacy Network is poised to amplify the impact of these programs, ensuring they touch the lives of an even greater number of adults.

Empowering Lives Through Literacy: The Ripple Effect

The advantages of literacy reverberate through individuals and communities alike. According to Literacy Network, adults investing 100 or more hours in basic education programs increase their annual incomes by an average of nearly $10,000. Furthermore, immigrants achieving naturalized citizenship experience a 10% surge in family income. Literacy Network offers citizenship education and more. Its programs help adults thrive in the workforce, advance their careers, pursue postsecondary education, aid their children with school, and actively engage in the community.

A Continued Commitment: Ascendium and Literacy Network’s Ongoing Partnership

This grant isn’t the first chapter in the relationship between Ascendium and Literacy Network. In 2022, Ascendium awarded Literacy Network with a $100,000 Good Neighbor Grant, which it used to expand the Student Services department. Both organizations share a profound belief in the transformative power of postsecondary education and workforce training to bring about positive, enduring change.

As our partnership continues, we look forward to a future where all adults have the opportunity to achieve their dreams through literacy.