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Literacy Pittsburgh helps those coming to America learn English, culture, and more | KD Sunday Spotlight

KD Sunday Spotlight: Literacy Pittsburgh
KD Sunday Spotlight: Literacy Pittsburgh 03:02

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Victor Ponce lives in Pittsburgh now, to pursue the American dream.  

"To improve my life, to grow up, to be a better person, professional, to be independent," said Ponce.

He came here, just three months ago from Cuba. 

"The situation in Cuba is difficult right now," he said. 

Making such a big life change comes with challenges. Ponce said, "The new country, sometimes it's difficult."

From understanding English to the American culture, it's a learning curve, but he said it's getting easier with the help of the non-profit Literacy Pittsburgh. It's an adult education organization serving people in Beaver County and Allegheny County.

KDKA's Megan Shinn asked, "(to be) the next civil engineer?" 

Ponce laughed and said, "I hope so."  This type of ambition drives about thirty-five-hundred adults, who receive Literacy Pittsburgh's help every year.

About 22 paid teachers instruct free classes for students who were left behind and just arrived. 

"To be alongside the journey of somebody like Victor and the thousands of students like him, that we serve, it is an honor," Carey Harris, the non-profit's CEO, said.

We're talking about anyone who didn't graduate from high school and wants to get their GED or brush up on skills for college or job training and those who immigrated here and are determined to learn English.

"There's something wonderful happening in Pittsburgh right now," Harris said. "We have so many new people coming and settling here, and so many people looking for that second chance."

She said their instructors bridge the gap so students can succeed and find careers in Pittsburgh or get post-secondary education. It's better lives through learning and it's opening doors to current and new Americans. 

"They're the most resilient, tenacious people. They're exactly the kind of people you want to live next door to. They're the kind of people you want to hire," said Harris.

Non-English-speaking students get placed in a class for their level or with a tutor whichever they prefer. Ponce is in at least one class, two times a week and it's more than just A-B-C's of English.

It's opening opportunities and filling in the gap to help everyone in Pittsburgh live the American dream. 

"I would like to say thank you too, I'm really grateful and glad to know this place, to know these people," Ponce said.

They've added new programs recently. One is a digital skills program, to help with computer skills. The other is career-oriented programming. That includes lessons to connect students with their future careers, like a math class, for trade programs.

Literacy Pittsburgh is always looking for volunteer tutors and if you're interested in getting involved with Literacy Pittsburgh you can find a link to the non-profit right here!

If you would like to see an organization highlighted in KDKA's Sunday Spotlight segment, send Megan Shinn an email at!

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