The Workforce Development program housed at OSU Institute of Technology recently received an Adult Literacy Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
The foundation awards funding to nonprofit organizations that provide services in adult basic education, GED or high school equivalency preparation, or English language learning.
The program at OSUIT, which covers Okmulgee, Hughes and Seminole counties, received a $10,000 grant from the foundation.
Chris Graham, assistant director of Workforce Development, said the program at OSUIT works primarily with people who are preparing to take their GED, General Education Development exam, but also serves people who are seeking to improve their literacy skills.
“We take adult learners on every level of the scale, people who are just starting on the literacy scale to those about ready to enroll in college,” Graham said. “We have resources for those who are just beginning and those who are preparing for the GED, but we lack resources for those in the middle. This grant allows us to offer a specialized class for those intermediate learners.”
Right now the literacy program assists between 200 and 300 people each year and the Dollar General grant will allow the program to help about 66 additional people, start classes earlier in August, cover the cost of more supplies, and pay an instructor, Graham said.
Administered under the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the program is primarily funded through state and federal sources as well as grants and other funding sources, which will cover the purchase of more tablets and laptops for students.
“We’ll have up-to-date technology for the students to work on,” he said.
Holding the classes at OSUIT is also a benefit to the university and the students, who get to spend time on a college campus.
“It gives the university another avenue to get students enrolled,” Graham said. “The first thing we do after they pass their GED is walk them over to Grady Clack.”
The more people who get their GED, the more go on to college, which in turn means the more they earn at their jobs, he said.
“Without the program, most students would be on their own,” Graham said, and he respects those students who are working to help themselves. “The students sacrifice a lot and take time off to get to these classes.”