National Adult Education and Literacy Week, September 18–24, underscores the continued demand for programs and services for adult students who need to improve basic skills in reading, writing, and math and obtain a high school equivalency certificate.  More than 36 million adults nationwide, including 1.2 million here in Illinois, lack basic literacy skills that limit their ability to advance in education and at work.

Spoon River College is one of 72 adult education providers offering programs funded through the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) that improve and expand the nation’s available pipeline of workers by assisting those who lack the educational requirements to achieve gainful employment in today’s increasingly high-tech, global job market.

Spoon River College’s Out of School Youth Program is designed to serve students ages 16-24 who have dropped out of high school, have a deficiency in literacy or numeracy and are economically disadvantaged, with the goal of helping them to increase their literacy and numeracy, obtain employment or attend post-secondary training after completion of the program, and obtain a GED®

The college partners with Career Link and Western Illinois Works, Inc. for this program, which includes monetary incentives, and many students do continue with higher education once they have obtained their high school equivalency.

“Many of our students transition into credit and certificate programs, which increases the diversity of life experiences students bring to their college classes. Partly through the inclusion of adult students, community colleges can offer an unmatched richness of thought and experience,” said Chad Murphy, director of the Adult Education programs at the college. “In addition, increasing the skill level of adults is often a centerpiece of economic development for neighborhoods and communities.”

English as a Second Language (ESL) is designed for adults, 16 years and older, whose native language is not English. The ESL program helps students improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills from literacy to the advanced level—skills necessary for success in the workplace, the community, and for future course work.

The Literacy Program offers services to adults in the college district. With the help of trained volunteers, programs are centered upon improving the reading, writing, and math level of each individual while understanding their unique needs and goals.

Adult education provides a path from low-income jobs and limited opportunities to middle-class wages and increased family sustainability. Full-time workers with a high school diploma earn almost $10,000 more per year than those without a diploma.

“Illinois community colleges are the driver for a trained workforce working with nearly 10,000 unique employers across the state.  With nearly 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs in our state requiring education beyond a high school diploma, the Illinois Community College System is the ideal place for getting on a path to a good paying career,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham.

For more information about adult education programs and services at Spoon River College, visit or call 309-649-6278.