Philadelphia Mayor Tackles Unemployment Through Adult Literacy Program on Canvas by Instructure







SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Instructure today announced that it has partnered with the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Literacy to curb the city's poverty rate through an adult literacy program offered on the Canvas learning management system. The program, myPLACE Online, seeks to reduce unemployment and poverty rates, fuel job and economic growth and decrease dependency on government programs in Philadelphia by improving basic work-readiness skills among low-literate adults.


The program is designed to be replicable on a national level to help local governments combat the crisis of low literacy among adults. With a 27 percent poverty rate — nearly twice the national average — and half of its adult population lacking the education needed for family-sustaining employment, Philadelphia is an ideal proving ground to see how a scalable, digital literacy program can impact the local economy and, if effective, be replicated nationally.

The Canvas partnership coincides with the grand opening of three Philadelphia Literacy and Adult Career Education (myPLACE) campuses, where low-literate job seekers can receive educational services in the cloud from online courses like those offered on Canvas, as well as face-to-face instruction and personal support from learning coaches and tutors.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has charged the Mayor's Commission on Literacy to develop initiatives that help these adults functioning below basic education levels to qualify for family-sustaining jobs and post-secondary training and education. As changes in industries have caused more jobs to require work-ready soft skills, such as reading comprehension and critical thinking, Philadelphians must increase their educational levels in order to fully participate in the workforce and contribute to the economy. The myPLACE initiative and Canvas component seek to address this issue at scale in a way that could be replicated across the nation to deliver similar results.

"This initiative will play a key role in helping our city lead the nation in using technology to achieve greater adult workforce development," said Mayor Nutter. "We know that these efforts will contribute to a better educated workforce and stronger local economy, and will support our vision to make Philadelphia one of the most literate cities in the country."

The new Canvas program marks the first offering directed at adult learners on the platform and underscores Instructure's commitment to improving education at all age levels. Since launching Canvas in February 2011, Instructure has helped more than 600 educational institutions simplify the learning experience for more than 11 million faculty and students around the world.

"We applaud the Commission's decision to tackle this prevalent problem by adopting intuitive online learning tools like Canvas," said Jared Stein, vice president, research and education at Instructure. "We look forward to rolling out this technology model to cities around the country to help accelerate learning for low-literate adults."

myPLACE Online is the nation's first online, cohort-based basic education program for low-literate adults, making adult education accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device. Starting March 2, 2014, the program will run in six-week sessions year-round, offering as many sections as needed. These workforce-contextualized and accelerated courses will serve learners who test at the intermediate levels (4th-8th grade reading, writing, and math), transitioning learners to the adult secondary level and positioning them to study for the GED exam or prepare for employment.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration of the myPLACE campuses will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 from 10 a.m.-noon EST at Congreso de Latinos Unidos' myPLACE Campus, 2800 North American Street.

"myPLACE campuses and myPLACE Online together give us the information technology tools we need to address the enormous scale of low adult literacy in Philadelphia," said Dr. Judith Rényi, executive director of the Mayor's Commission on Literacy. "I am particularly pleased our adult learners will be using this sophisticated tool, Canvas by Instructure, as they work to improve their basic literacy and work-readiness skills."

About Instructure

Instructure is a technology company committed to improving education by providing instructors and students modern tools and resources that empower and simplify the learning experience. Instructure offers Canvas, the open, easy-to-use, cloud-native learning management system, as well as Canvas Network, an index of open, online courses by educators everywhere, from Ivy League institutions to community colleges. To keep learning, visit

Copyright © 2014, Instructure, Inc. All rights reserved. Instructure, Canvas and their respective logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of Instructure, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other brands and names may be claimed as the property of others.

About The Mayor's Commission on Literacy

The Mayor's Commission on Literacy has worked to equip all adults in Philadelphia with the education they need for work, family, and civic engagement since 1983. Mayor Michael A. Nutter has charged The Commission to work on behalf of over 80 literacy and workforce development programs to help the estimated 550,000 adults in the city functioning below basic adult education levels qualify for family-sustaining jobs and post-secondary training and education. The Commission partners with local adult literacy agencies to recruit and train volunteers, and offers support and professional development services to adult literacy educators, tutors, and professionals. For more information about The Commission and its programs, visit

SOURCE Instructure