Pitney Bowes Inc. and ProLiteracy Lead Initiative to Build Workforce Readiness Through Adult Literacy and Basic Education Programs

SYRACUSE, N.Y., June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pitney Bowes and other leading corporations have joined with ProLiteracy, the nation's largest adult literacy organization, in a new initiative to build workforce readiness through adult literacy and basic education at a time when unemployment among the least educated adults has soared to 15.5 percent, according to the Department of Labor.

On Thursday, June 18, nearly three dozen business leaders will meet in Washington as part of a panel discussion on ways to build a stronger workforce by investing in adult basic education and workforce training. There are 32 million adults in the U.S. who lack the skills to consistently and correctly read connected sentences and paragraphs -- skills needed for success in the workforce.

"An educated workforce is a critical element of our nation's ability to compete and lead in a global marketplace," said John Ward, president, Pitney Bowes Mail Services. "Businesses, federal, state and local governments need to work together to better educate and train American workers and boost U.S. global competitiveness."

Pitney Bowes, a longtime supporter of literacy and education, focuses its efforts on programs that address the achievement gap and workforce preparedness. The Pitney Bowes Foundation provided funding to ProLiteracy's News For You, a weekly newspaper for new readers. And, through a recent grant to ProLiteracy, Pitney Bowes is supporting the development of a national model for onsite workforce literacy instruction in ESL (English as a Second Language).

Addressing the adult literacy and workforce training issue at Thursday's business panel are: U.S. Representative Dan Maffei (D-NY); Ray Uhalde, senior advisor to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis; David Perdue, former CEO, Dollar General; Mike Critelli, former CEO, Pitney Bowes; Bill Kamela, senior director, Microsoft; Karen Elzey, vice president and executive director, Institute for a Competitive Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and David C. Harvey, president & CEO, ProLiteracy.

"As a country, we need to invest more in adult basic education and workforce training programs to help unemployed Americans gain the skills needed to get and retain a job," said David Harvey, president & CEO of ProLiteracy.

By the Numbers: Economic Impact and Current Investment

    * Three out of ten high school students don't graduate on time. If all students in 2007 graduated on time, they would earn an estimated $329 billion in income over their lifetimes -- generating long-term benefits to the economy.
    * A high school dropout has an average annual income of $17,209 while a college graduate earns on average $52,671 annually.
    * Adult literacy programs return $33 to the economy for every dollar invested in them.
    * Only 2.5 million adults are currently enrolled in literacy or adult basic education programs despite research showing 32 million adults need additional education for success in the workplace.
    * About $2 billion is spent collectively by federal, state and philanthropic funding for adult literacy and basic education programs annually. Federal funding in real dollars has decreased over the past 10 years, despite a growing need for adult education.

About Pitney Bowes:

Pitney Bowes is a $6.3 billion global technology leader whose products, services and solutions deliver value within the mailstream and beyond. Founded in 1920, our company's 35,000 employees deliver technology, service and innovation to more than two million customers worldwide. For more information about Pitney Bowes, its products, services and solutions, visit www.pb.com.

About ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy works with adult new readers and learners in partnership with local, national, and international organizations, providing training, professional development, and advocacy. It also develops and distributes materials used to instruct adults in reading, writing, math, and English as a second language through its publishing division, New Readers Press. ProLiteracy has 1,200 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 125 nongovernmental international agencies. For more information, go to www.proliteracy.org and www.newreaderspress.com.