FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Roughly one out of 10 adults in Allen County does not have the equivalent of a high school diploma.
The Literacy Alliance works to make diplomas accessible and affordable. They adapt to student schedules and charge fees based on the student’s ability to pay.
“Maybe they dropped out their senior year and they’re now 19 years old and thought, ‘I better go finish,'” says Literacy Alliance CEO Melinda Haines.
“We have people in their 50’s and 60’s who come back and say, ‘You know, I really want to read to my children or grandchildren and I realized I should have done this earlier.'”
Sometimes the diploma isn’t the goal. As one of the few organizations that works with adults who read below a sixth grade level, The Literacy Alliance will set reachable goals to keep clients moving ahead.
When a judge ordered Ryan Napier to attend The Literacy Alliance, he had been away from school for 20 years and didn’t want to return. His outlook on school quickly changed.
“It’s going to be a blessing because I’m gonna get my GED and then I’m looking at going to college for manufacturing,” Napier explains.
“There’s a high demand on it right now. So, potentially I should be able to have a good career and have a good life.”
The Literacy Alliance uses classroom teaching and one-on-one tutoring to lift students in reading, math, computing, job training and skills certification.
Haines says students learn something even more valuable: hope.
“A good day is when we talk to a student like Ryan and you see that they now have optimism because they know that there is another place for them to go,” she says.
“They come here and a lot of times they’re in despair because if they’ve been told to come here, they’re thinking, ‘Oh that’s one more roadblock that I have to overcome and I don’t want to do this,’ but they get in the classroom and they meet our teachers who encourage them to keep going. When you see a student get their high school equivalency diploma, we really cheer and it happens a lot. We’ve had 36 students in this program year achieve that goal. We’re really proud of them.”