World Education, Inc. (WEI) is delighted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline, which, thanks to funding from ACLS, we have been privileged to develop and coordinate since its inception in 1992. For 25 years, the Hotline has found resources for adult learners across the state, with their many different needs. WEI has been deeply committed to ensuring that prospective adult learners, educators, and volunteers have access to up-to-date information about adult literacy services in the Commonwealth and are connected to the resources they need. For many of our callers, the Hotline is where they are able to find resources when they thought there were no options. Callers ranged from a 50-year-old dyslexic blind man wanting to study to get his GED to a Spanish-speaking elderly woman looking to volunteer at an education program offering native language literacy.
In the past year, there have been more than 87,000 visits to Hotline resources (call center, website, and Hotline Coordinator). However, to be effective, we must ensure that Hotline visitors have the most current and comprehensive information about programs, classes, and services. Therefore, we are pleased to invite program directors to visit our table at the annual ACLS Directors Meeting to celebrate our 25th anniversary milestone and to learn how to ensure that any new program designs and services are updated in our database.
You might be wondering how the Hotline can help you or your learners. At WEI, our Hotline team continually strives to improve access to services for the almost 640,000 Massachusetts (Mass.) adults who lack a high school credential and the more than 250,000 Mass. adults who need help learning English. Over the years, we have used a number of strategies to reach our audiences—for example:
- Adding an online searchable database (with support from Verizon), and then adding and updating a website (with support from ACLS) that meets the Commonwealth’s Accessibility and Validation Standards. Visit the website and try out the Find A Program database at www.mass.gov/edu/literacyhotline. You can help your learners or those on wait lists find resources on ABE, ESOL, high school equivalency (HSE), transition to college, or vocational or job training programs in your area. In addition, we’ve added links to help learners access useful online resources, such as Career Centers and the searchable database of child care providers certified through the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care.
- Providing access to information about Mass. programs for non-native English speakers. Our flyers are now available in 16 languages, representing those spoken by more than 90% of adults in Mass. (according to Cognos and other state reports): Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Cape Verdean Creole, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Khmer, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese. In the past year, these flyers have been downloaded 1,740 times in all 16 languages, with 85% of the downloads in languages other than English.
- Connecting adults to resources that help them obtain their HSE by updating links to resources, including Diploma Sender for those who need to obtain copies of their HSE score reports or credentials.
- Helping volunteers find programs, and programs find volunteers.
WEI also provides an “800” toll-free number for a Massachusetts-based call center, with bilingual operators (Spanish and English) answering calls seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight Eastern Time. By working with a translation service, the call center also has the capacity to assist to callers in 200 languages. In the past year alone, the call center has provided translation services to speakers of Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Creole, French, French Creole, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Mandarin, Nepali, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Somali, and Turkish. Call us now at 800-447-8844, or refer the number to those who might benefit.
In addition to the website and call center, Hotline callers with questions requiring more personal or specific information are forwarded to Hotline Coordinator Ruby Reyes, who responded to 174 calls in the past year.
Outreach to promote awareness of the Hotline is a significant part of our work. In the past year, Reyes mailed 647 Public Service Announcements and 40,000 brochures and flyers in all 16 languages. She further promoted the Hotline in person at 32 community organizations and conferences. She reached out to a range of organizations, including veterans services, immigrant rights organizations, consulates, TV and radio stations, churches, shelters, advocacy groups, disability services, Mass. Departments of Children and Families and Transitional Assistance, career centers, family resource centers, family health clinics, and other community-based organizations.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank all those who have supported the Hotline over the years, including our previous Hotline Coordinators Isilma Morales, Catalina Gonzalez, and Alexandra Papagno, and our current dedicated Coordinator Ruby Reyes, whom you can reach via email (Ruby_reyes@worlded.org) or at 617-385-3685.
We close by thanking all of you who work tirelessly in the hundreds of adult education programs that are part of our Hotline network. Please join us in thanking ACLS for their support of the Hotline on behalf of the thousands of learners it has helped over the past 25 years. Here’s to 25 more!
By connecting adult learners, volunteers, educators, and programs, the Adult Literacy Hotline supports SABES’ mission to provide every adult with opportunities to develop literacy skills needed to qualify for further education, job training, better employment, and to reach his/her full potential as a family member, productive worker, and citizen.
Top image: Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline Coordinator Ruby Reyes