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PR- 356-06
October 12, 2006


New Office to Lead Adult Education Reform Efforts Involving City Agencies and Dozens of Community Based Organizations

$5 Million in Federal Funding Committed to Strengthen the City's Adult Education System

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday announced the creation of the Office of Adult Education and the appointment of Anthony Tassi as its director. The new Office will coordinate policy across participating City agencies and promote adult education best practices. Mayor Bloomberg also announced the allocation of $5 million in new federal funds to strengthen the City's adult education system.  The announcement was made at a reception hosted Wednesday evening by the Mayor at Gracie Mansion in celebration of the first annual Adult Education Day in New York City.  At the reception, Mayor Bloomberg also honored four New Yorkers with the first Mayor's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Adult Education.  The Mayor was joined by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott for the announcement.

"Improving the literacy and language skills of New Yorkers - both young and old - is critical to community development and the City's future prosperity," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The creation of the Office of Adult Education will help adult New Yorkers improve these skills, ultimately opening the door to more career opportunities and economic success. Today, I'm also proud to honor four individuals who have proven that learning never ends and who have risen above all odds to become successful members of our community. They are shining examples of how adult education programs can open doors and create bright futures."

"The establishment of the Office of Adult Education is the culmination of a strategic planning process by the Mayor's Office and City agencies," said Deputy Mayor Walcott.  "Adult education is a critical component to community development and increasing economic opportunity for all New Yorkers. We're committed to providing quality adult education programs throughout our City - so that parents can play an active role in their child's education and adults can gain the skills they need for career advancement."

Established within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, the Office of Adult Education is dedicated to strengthening the field of adult education in New York City. 

Working with a variety of agencies including the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Human Resources Administration (HRA), Department of Education (DOE), Department of Correction (DOC), City University of New York (CUNY), and the Brooklyn, New York and Queens Public Libraries, and in coordination with the Mayor's Commission on Economic Opportunity, the Office will help expand and develop adult educational opportunities throughout the five boroughs. In addition to City agencies, the Office will also work with a range of State and federal agencies to enhance these adult education programs.

Among its initial priorities, the Office will focus on strengthening educational services provided to inmates on Rikers Island and to ex-offenders upon their reentry into the community. New educational television programming - intended to reach hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers - will also be created to strengthen the impact and expand the reach of adult education programs.

To support the new Office, the Mayor has allocated an additional $5 million in new federal funding for adult education in fiscal year 2007. These funds will help designated community based organizations that lost State funding earlier this year. The funding will also underwrite the development of model programs designed to help prepare adult literacy students for health care job training programs that they wouldn't otherwise be eligible for. The new federal funding supplements $30 million in existing City funding and another $20 million in federal funds already in the budget that the City allocates to adult education.

Prior to being appointed Director of the City's Adult Education Office, Anthony Tassi served as the Health Policy Advisor to Deputy Mayor Walcott. He also helped develop the City's health literacy initiative, which has grown to include dozens of adult education programs and health care providers. Tassi began his career in public service in the Washington, D.C. office of Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Mayor Bloomberg also presented awards for outstanding academic achievement to the following four individuals who have benefited from participating in City adult education programs:

Kalanga Kandolo, a former history and political science teacher in the Congo, fled for the United States after being imprisoned and tortured for teaching outside of the government-approved curriculum. He is currently employed in the field of social work for the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

Onika Keel, a native of Trinidad , always dreamt of the opportunity to study in the United States. Today, after having earned a GED, she is pursuing that dream and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at Medgar Evers College.

Maria Vasquez, a native of the Dominican Republic, came to the United States to pursue a better life.  She spoke no English when she arrived in New York, and today she works in nursing for the City's Health and Hospitals Corporation. She was valedictorian of her nursing education class at DOE and has been recommended for the Registered Nurse training program at the Helene Fuld School of Nursing.

Janet Cayenne-Jobity struggled with literacy, but did not allow that to deter her after registering for GED classes. She discovered her poetic voice through writing poems in her classes and this fall she was accepted into the Brooklyn College GED program. She plans on attending college afterward.

The New York Times sponsored tonight's reception celebrating Adult Education Day. For more information on the Office of Adult Education, please visit


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

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