Western New Mexico University Adult Education Services received $25,000 in the form of a PNMR Foundation Power Up Grant supporting Economic Vitality. The funding allows WNMU Adult Education Services to offer digital literacy classes and cover the cost of high school equivalency exams for more than three dozen WNMU students.
PNM received over $2.5 million in requests from 80 organizations and awarded $500,000 to 17 nonprofits, according to PNMR Foundation Executive Director Laurie Roach.
Open to adults and seniors, the new digital literacy courses will run for five weeks each in both Silver City and Deming.
“We need to get everybody where they’re comfortable learning using technology and working in the digital age. With this grant, we are able to offer computer skills courses relating to education, employment and, more generally, life,” Adult Educational Services Program Manager Debbie Maldonado said.
The courses will be based on Google’s literacy curriculum and will start later this fall. The Digital Literacy Skills Level I class will cover the basics of operating a computer—from turning it on to typing on the keyboard—while students in Digital Literacy Skills Level II will learn to use computers for job searching and in employment settings.
“Even cash registers at McDonalds are now computers. You can’t even do what’s considered a basic skills job without knowing how to use a computer. We’re taking the low-skilled community members and improving their technology skills so they feel more comfortable when it comes to becoming employed,” Maldonado said.
About one fifth of the grant award will be used to pay for the high school equivalency exam for 40 WNMU students who’ve gone through the Adult Education Services program.
“Most of our adult students are low income. Paying $100 for a high school equivalency test can really hurt their budget. We can give them all the computer skills they need, but if they can’t afford to take the test, everything we’ve done will not help them,” Maldonado said.
In addition to free High School Equivalency preparation, WNMU Adult Education Services also offers English as a Second Language, employment search and application/resume completion assistance, tutoring to improve math, reading and writing skills for people returning to the workforce or entering higher education programs.
To inquire about the digital literacy classes and other programs offered by WNMU Adult Educational Services, call 575-574-5101 or drop by the office in Watts Hall at 500 E. 18th Street in Silver City.