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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f7707e000090.5 WESA's Life of Learning series focuses on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area.This multi-year commitment to providing learning-focused news coverage in southwestern Pennsylvania is made possible by a generous grant from the Grable Foundation.

AIU Hopes Tour Will Highlight Importance Of Adult Learning To Lawmakers


The difference between a worker who has a high school diploma and one who doesn’t may have a larger impact on the economy than some may realize. 

Each year, Pennsylvanians without a high school diploma or GED cost taxpayers an average of $683 each, according to Jamie Baxter, director of legislative policy and advocacy at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU).

But getting them a high school diploma, according to the AIU, could mean the state getting up to $6,000 per year in taxes from each worker. 

This is part of the reason why the AIU, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania is hosting an Adult and Family Literacy Tour Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Baxter said she feels as though legislators and policy makers are unaware of the number of adult learners or potential adult learners within the Pittsburgh area who need some remedial training skills.

Included in the tour will be policymakers and their staff, so that they can see these programs firsthand and get a snapshot of what the different classrooms look like in the region, according to Baxter.

“What we wanted to do was take them to three different programs so they could kind of see how their investments made in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., how those investments help to provide adult learners the tools they need to become successful citizens,” said Baxter.

The tour consists of three stops: Goodwill’s RISE job training class, which focuses on remediation and job training work, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s civics class, which prepares adults for a citizenship test and the Greater Literacy Council GED prep class.

Baxter said the goal of AIU is to get adults the skills they need, whether it’s remediation in reading and math or if they need a high school diploma. Bottom line: they want to make sure they are appropriately prepared for job openings in the area, said Baxter.

“We want to make sure that we’re connecting with business and industry so that when our adults are gaining the basic skills they need, they’re also receiving some basic job training so that they can prepare to enter the workforce as soon as they leave our classroom,” she said.

Baxter said she wants the event to raise awareness about adult learners to lawmakers – who she said often see these programs included in budget lines. Organizers hope that by taking a tour, the idea of adult learning programs will come to life for those lawmakers.