Lehman Literacy Center Receives $5.4 Million to Expand Services

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For decades, Bronx residents have headed to the Adult Learning Center (ALC) at Lehman College for free English language classes or to get help preparing for high school equivalency exams. Still, ALC administrators longed to do even more to link clients—often underemployed single moms—with life-changing job opportunities and expand the center’s reach. Now, thanks to $5.4 million in grants recently awarded by the state Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education, they’ll get a chance to do just that.

“The grants will enable us to further a large part of our mission—improving the lives of our students and their families through career-focused education,” said Jane Kehoe-Higgins, interim director for Lehman’s Institute for Literacy Studies, which houses the ALC.

New York State and the U.S. Department of Education will pay out the awards over five years. It is the largest windfall ever for the center, which serves some 800 students.

The ALC will use the majority of the money to create a healthcare literacy certification program in collaboration with Lehman’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The course—which, like the center’s other services will be free—will qualify clients for nursing and medical assistant jobs, a sector that is booming in the Bronx, said Patricia Mullen, the ALC’s director.

The rest of the funding will be used to create literacy zones at three Bronx public schools—P.S. 246 Poe Center; The New School for Art and Leadership, M.S. 244; and P.S. 94 Kings College School—that will provide free, onsite adult learning classes for the local community through 2027.

Both programs start this June and will be open to people aged 16 and up. The ALC also plans to bring on full-time case managers to assist clients with education, housing, and other daily support issues.

“Lehman has always been a catalyst for economic and social mobility for its students and for the community it calls home,” said Peter Nwosu, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs and student success at Lehman. “We are proud to be a CUNY leader in offering opportunities for adult learners and non-traditional students to further their education and achieve their life goals.”


Creating a Pathway to Success

Approved by the state nursing board and the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation, the ALC’s new literacy/health certification program will focus on vocabulary and concepts specific to healthcare.

“It’s a simultaneous, intensive literacy course that is medical-terminology specific,” Mullen said. “We’ll also be leading discussions on medical instruments and forms and being able to write precisely when documenting care and medication.”

The classes will meet several times a week for up to 36 weeks during the school year; students will be able to choose from morning and evening sessions to ensure it fits their schedules. They must also complete a 30-hour clinical internship.

“The program gives our students a leg up into a terrific career,” Mullen said. “We hope all of our students will consider the certification classes and that some will go further and enroll in the Adult Degree Program (ADP) at Lehman.”   

The ADP, also housed in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, serves students ages 25 and older who are reentering college or entering for the first time. Students in the program start out taking for-credit courses designed to facilitate their success at Lehman and are fully integrated into the college community once they choose a major.

“We are showing our young people and adult learners a pathway that education can offer,” said Kehoe-Higgins.

For now, the ALC and its clients are preparing for a transformative summer as their new programs get underway.

“We’re very excited,” said Brian Rausse, the ALC’s associate director. “The grants and these programs have been a long time coming, and they give us additional tools to meet our students’ needs.”

For more information about the ALC’s adult education programs, email info.alc@lehman.cuny.edu or call 718.960.8807.