First Students Pass GED Test through Library’s Project LEAP
Jax Journey Grant-Funded Program Reaches Out to Community
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 11, 2016 – Jacksonville residents Queen Farmer and Schade Acacia have something to brag about—they have achieved what they set out to do when they took part in the Jacksonville Public Library’s Project LEAP—Library Enhanced Access Program—a literacy education and career preparation program funded by Jax Journey, an anti-crime initiative. Farmer and Acacia passed the GED test, a high school equivalency diploma for those who have not completed high school. With this accomplishment under their belt, each plans to pursue higher education to realize their dreams and future careers.
Farmer thanked the library staff involved with the program and said, “I am excited that I have obtained my GED and look forward to beginning my AA degree at Florida State College at Jacksonville in the fall.” Proud of her accomplishment, Farmer plans to continue her education by transferring to Florida State University or to the University of Central Florida.
The GED opportunity may have been unlikely for these students if it weren’t for the library’s LEAP Program. LEAP paved the way for the library to take GED classes into neighborhoods and partner with organizations to reach students such as Farmer and Acacia. The students attended four nine-week classes and passed GED tests in Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA), Math, Science and Social Studies. LEAP helped defray their costs for taking the tests.
The GED classes were arranged through the library’s Center for Adult Learning (CAL), which provides basic education and English as a Second Language for adults. CAL Literacy Manager Katie Devanny said LEAP students are at various stages of progression and she expects more to earn their high school equivalency by the end of the year. She’s excited the program will continue next year, and wants to see more students take advantage of the unique program.
“Our students come to us with one goal: to pass the test,” said Devanny. “If a student is serious and sticks with the program and comes to class regularly, the student will succeed.”
Because low literacy rates have a strong correlation with poverty, crime and unemployment, LEAP focuses on literacy needs in communities that are characterized by high crime, low income, poor academically performing schools, and low education rates. Increased digital and language literacy ensures that an at-risk population has opportunities to achieve educational and workforce success, and helps reduce crime and poverty in the urban core. In addition to GED preparation, LEAP offers classes in computer technology and child/parent language-building skills.
LEAP has partnered with dozens of organizations such as the City Rescue Mission, Community Connections, Emmett Reed Community Center, Robert F. Kennedy Community Center, Headstart, Operation New Hope, and numerous groups including churches, apartment complexes, schools, child care and learning centers. Since the program began in Jan. 2016, more than 1,300 participants have increased technology knowledge by attending digital programs, and more than 4,000 children have attended storytimes, learning and reinforcing pre-literacy skills.
LEAP has proven to be beneficial in other important ways, too, as students rediscover their neighborhood libraries and become lifelong learners. “We also encourage participants to ‘leap’ back to their neighborhood libraries to take advantage of indispensable resources,” said Library Deputy Director Jennifer Giltrop, who oversees LEAP. “Our libraries have technology classes and many other resources that supplement the LEAP curriculum.”
Project LEAP can be one of the many contributors to an increase in graduation rates, jobs and income in families, and, a reduction in crime in Jacksonville. Computer, GED, and child/parent storytime language-building classes start in September. If you’re interested, please call 904-630-2426.
About the Jacksonville Public Library
The mission of the Jacksonville Public Library is to enrich lives, build community and foster success by bringing people, information and ideas together. Last year, more than 3.4 million visits were made to Jacksonville Public Libraries, items were checked out more than 5.9 million times, and nearly 11,000 programs and services were offered to Duval County residents at the Main Library and 20 branch locations. For more information about the Jacksonville Public Library, call 630-BOOK (2665) or visit jaxpubliclibrary.org.
JACKSONVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
303 Laura St. N.
Jacksonville, Florida 32202