NEWPORT, RI – As Newport Community School’s (NCS) Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center (AIALC) continues to grow and evolve to meet community needs, it’s getting a new $100,000 boost from U.S. Senator Jack Reed.  Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, delivered a $100,000 federal earmark to help NCS offer vocational training, GED preparation, English-language classes, and other varieties of adult educational support.

Today, Senator Reed toured NCS’s new 5,400 sq-foot space and classrooms in the Newport Gateway Center overlooking America’s Cup Avenue.  Reed joined Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and Newport Community School executive director Tracy Shea to meet with students and faculty and discuss efforts to help local businesses find qualified workers by investing in adult education programs like the ones at Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center, which expand opportunity and create meaningful career pathways that lead to economic growth and security.

Located atop Newport’s transportation hub, the Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center has become a go-to center for residents seeking an opportunity to learn new job skills, including non-native speakers learning English, or to get a second chance at education to advance their careers and increase their earning potential.

Newport Community School, in collaboration with local schools and community partners, provides educational opportunities to complement classroom learning and supports academic success, personal responsibility and economic self-sufficiency.

“The Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center offers a gateway to opportunity and it connects people with the skills they need to succeed while also strengthening our workforce and economy.  I am grateful to the Newport Community School for the critical work they do.  They provide people with a sense of community in the classroom and the tools to get ahead,” said Senator Reed.  “I am a big believer in adult education.  Whether its learning a new language or learning new job skills to increase their earning potential, all the programs offered here help people become more productive and contribute their talents toward building a stronger community.”

“We are very grateful for this important support as it allows us to better meet the community need for skill building, training and employment services. Our graduates are ready to work and make important contributions for area employers,” said Newport Community School executive director Tracy Shea.

“The Newport Community School has been a vital resource for scores of Newporters over the years, opening doors to new career pathways and bridging the education gap for students of all ages,” said Mayor Napolitano.  “This funding represents an important investment in our community as we continue to look for ways to expand the opportunities available to our residents, and I’d like to thank Sen. Reed once again for his support.”

The Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center is a full-service adult learning center providing adult education, vocational, and job readiness programs to Newport County youth and adults.  It offers a range of services, including academic and vocational assessment, literacy and numeracy instruction, workplace literacy, computer literacy, job readiness skills, ABE/GED and ELA (English Language Acquisition; formerly “ESL”) instruction, high school completion and vocational training and counseling services that are based upon the findings of recent research and the best practices recommend by the National Literacy Resource Center.

This latest federal earmark marks the second major federal award for the Newport Community School, which received $170,000 through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative last December to assist students at Rogers High School.

Senator Reed is a leading Congressional champion for adult education and successfully delivered over $2 million in federal funding for Rhode Island adult education programs in 2022.  He also helped include an increase of $35 million for adult education state grants in the fiscal 2023 appropriations bill making its way through Congress, for a total of $725.5 million nationwide.

Senator Reed says investing in adult education is an economic imperative because it can be the difference between residents earning a family-sustaining wage and struggling to make ends meet, and too many jobs go unfilled while people struggle to upgrade their education.  Reed is working on new, bipartisan legislation, the Adult Education WORKS Act, that will update the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to strengthen and expand access to adult education services. Among other things, the legislation will double the authorized funding for adult education by 2026 to $1.35 billion.