ProLiteracy Leads Local Workforce Training Project for Low-Income Immigrants, Refugees, and Native Born Community Members

Share Article

Adult literacy is one of the foundational skills necessary for success in entrepreneurship and in the workforce.

When these individuals have access to language and literacy instruction, they have substantially lower unemployment rates and higher earning capabilities.

ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership program in the nation, today announced a new project funded by the Pitney Bowes Foundation that will prepare low-income immigrants to develop and operate small business enterprises by pairing literacy and English language instruction with entrepreneurial interests.

Between 34-38 adults living on Syracuse’s North Side will participate in the project, which will be offered in collaboration with Northside UP, a nonprofit neighborhood collaborative. The project focuses specifically on English language learning with a workforce context because adult literacy is one of the foundational skills necessary for success in entrepreneurship and in the workforce.

The project will build on the entrepreneurial interests of low-income immigrants, refugees, and native born community members who possess limited literacy, numeracy, computer, and English-language skills. ProLiteracy will adapt or create specific instructional materials and design a 10-week program of instruction. At the end of the 13-month project, participants plan to establish or grow their small business enterprises, or find jobs that fit their new skills. Participants who complete the training will receive a stipend to help cover start-up costs.

“Roughly 50 percent of immigrants and refugees who come to the U.S. each year function at low levels of literacy, which limits their access to jobs and job training, college, and citizenship,” says Kevin Morgan, ProLiteracy president and CEO. “Yet we know that when these individuals have access to language and literacy instruction, they have substantially lower unemployment rates and higher earning capabilities. So this exciting new project is an important component to building on the strengths of our resettlement communities, benefiting one neighborhood now, and hopefully many neighborhoods in the future.”

This project builds on the successful 6Ps (plan, product, process, price, promotion, and paperwork) financial literacy and business development model ProLiteracy has implemented overseas for many years. This pilot project is the first time ProLiteracy is adapting the concept to work in the United States. After this pilot project, ProLiteracy plans to disseminate the model and materials so it can be replicated in communities across the nation.

“Small business enterprises enable new immigrants as well as U.S. citizens to contribute to the economic engine of their communities, and increase their capacity to support themselves and their families” says Kathleen Ryan Mufson, president of the Pitney Bowes Foundation. “The Pitney Bowes Foundation is proud to support small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to learn and increase their literacy skills through this unique endeavor.”

“The Northside's diversity is an asset that cannot be fully utilized without a program like the 6P's, which helps entrepreneurs understand the intricacies of owning a business in America,” says Dominic Robinson, Northside UP director. “With the appropriate support, entrepreneurs of all backgrounds can add vibrancy to our neighborhood—and to other similar neighborhoods across the country.”

For more information about the integrated workforce training for low-income immigrants project, please contact Amy Schmitz at aschmitz(at)proliteracy(dot)org or (315) 214-2580.

About ProLiteracy:
ProLiteracy is the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation. It works with adult new readers and learners and with local and national organizations to help adults gain the reading, writing, math, computer, and English skills they need to be successful. ProLiteracy advocates on behalf of adult learners and the programs that serve them, provides training and professional development, and publishes materials used in adult literacy and basic education instruction. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. For more information, visit

About the Pitney Bowes Foundation:
The Pitney Bowes Foundation is a private entity with a mission to support education, literacy, and the diverse community interests of Pitney Bowes employees. We commit our resources to closing the achievement gap and preparing the workforce of tomorrow. For information about these programs and other Pitney Bowes Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy initiatives, visit More information on Pitney Bowes can be found at

About Northside UP:
The mission of the Northside Urban Partnership (Northside UP) is to improve the quality of life for Syracuse city residents, particularly within its Near Northside neighborhoods. Northside UP convenes citizens, organizations, businesses, and institutions to identify common interests and work towards tangible outcomes, and works to foster neighborhood revitalization by creating financial, artistic and civic opportunities for members of the community. Northside UP is collaboratively sponsored by CenterState CEO, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, Franciscan Collaborative Ministries, The Greater North Salina Business Association, and St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Amy Schmitz
Follow us on
Visit website