New Illinois Billboard Campaign Targets Adult Learners
Nearly 1.3 million Illinois adults lack a high school diploma or equivalent, and more than 2 million speak something other than English as their primary language, according to the Illinois Community College Board. The ICCB is launching a new billboard campaign to urge those Illinoisans to enroll in adult education programs.
The state provides about 70,000 adults per year with adult education programs, according to the director of legislative and external affairs for ICCB, Matt Berry. Berry said they’re clearly not serving everyone who could benefit from this type of educational programming. He said the billboard campaign, dubbed “Do It For You, Do It For Them,” targets adults who may want more education but don’t know it’s available.
He said a big chunk of the state population is made up of “older adults in the 40 to 55 age bracket who’ve been out of school for a long time and really might not know about the services and opportunities that are available for them in the state.”
Adult education ranges from basic literacy for those with less than a ninth-grade education, secondary education for individuals who have not completed a high school degree or equivalent, and "English as a second language" (ESL) classes. Berry said many programs around the state also offer “bridge programs,” which are designed to equip adults with specific skills that are in demand by employers.
He also said that most of these program are provided for free, and they can help students find childcare and transportation options. Berry said an 800 number (800-321-9511) and website will be listed on the billboards, which will connect interested adults with programs near their homes.
Tawanna Nickens, assistant dean of the adult education and workforce development at Champaign’s Parkland College, said the end goal is to help individuals become productive, employed members of society.
“So our focus is not just preparing them for high school completion or to be able to speak proficiently and understand the English language,” Nickens said. “It really is about preparing them for employment.”
Nicken said she welcomes the billboard campaign because enrollment in adult education is down at Parkland this year. She said students can register in adult education classes now through the spring.
“When students call our program, when they see that ad and call at anytime, we will have options available,” Nickens said.
Berry said the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois donated the billboard space, and ICCB provided funding for the printing and installation of the billboards.
For more information about adult education programs throughout the state, visit: www.iladulteducation.org.
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