Putting Women at the Center: Sustaining a Woman-Centered Literacy Program

Betsy Bowen

Abstract


For nineteen years, Mercy Learning Center, a community-based literacy organization, has provided basic literacy instruction to low-income women in Bridgeport, Connecticut. During that time it has grown from three students and two tutors to 450 students, 155 tutors, and five full-time teachers. This growth has been affected by changes in welfare regulations and increased immigration. Using what it describes as a “holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive community,” the Center provides instruction that goes beyond what is usually considered basic literacy. The Center’s expansive view of basic literacy has helped it respond to the changing needs and demographics of its community.

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