Charity Spotlight: Vita Education Services

making it happen local charity spotlightA key component and skill for finding employment in our country is the ability to speak, read, and write English. However, for those educationally disadvantaged or in underserved populations in Bucks County, lack of literacy skills can be a barrier to employment and financial independence. Bridging that gap is Vita Education Services, an area non-profit that provides a range of free educational services to individuals in need so that they can gain skills in literacy, GED preparation and decision making.

Founded in 1971 by a judge from the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas and a group of concerned volunteers, the organization began its mission by assisting young adults who were paroled or on probation. The goal was to reduce recidivism rates by providing personal support and teaching decision-making skills they could apply to their individual situations and thereby create new paths forward. It was soon discovered that many of these individuals had limited reading and writing skills and so a literacy program was also developed to meet the need.

Today, Vita provides a broad range of literacy services throughout the county and is the largest provider of educational services to individuals in the Bucks County Correctional facilities. The organization not only teaches reading and writing skills, but assists in GED preparation. Additionally, they teach decision-making skills focused on evaluating situations and thinking forward to the possible outcomes before acting. Job Readiness classes help participants with a plan for interviewing for jobs and securing employment upon release from incarceration.

A Decisions for Teens curriculum has also been developed for at-risk teenagers, helping them to assess situations, recognize unsuccessful patterns of behavior and set goals for their future. The program integrates feelings, attitudes and personal values and helps participants to develop critical thinking skills as they arrive at decisions. The organization has published its curriculum and made it available to other groups to utilize.

Additionally, Vita provides language learning services to a variety of individuals and families as they seek to learn or improve their English. Whether beginning speakers or those wanting to improve their knowledge, Vita has classes and trained tutors ready to help. The English as a Second Language (ESL) programs have helped many to prepare for employment, citizenship readiness or to go on to post-secondary education.

The Family Literacy program engages both parents and young children in learning English together through a variety of interactive activities. Not only do both parent and child improve in their language skills, but parents are better prepared to help their children with homework and encourage their success in school.

Many of these programs occur through collaborative efforts with local schools and community organizations as they provide their locations for meetings and tutoring sessions. Volunteer tutors are trained to work with individuals and groups in a variety of settings and programs.

If you are interested in learning more about Vita Educational Services or ways you can become involved, either by becoming trained as a volunteer tutor or by donating funds, visit their website at www.vitaeducation.org.

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