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Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education

Mission: Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport, Inc. (MLC) provides basic literacy and life skills training to low-income women using a holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive environment. All women are welcome without regard for race, religion, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin. MLC was founded in 1987 on the premise that one of the best ways to help entire families overcome poverty and succeed is to educate women and mothers. Rooted in this multigenerational approach, the motto of Mercy Learning Center is “Educate a woman… Educate a family.” Since its founding, MLC has educated and empowered over 10,000 women. MLC provides a range of flexible learning opportunities for women, including part time tutoring, full-time classroom instruction, technology education, employment and life skills training, family literacy programs and enrichment. Holistic support services—including social services, counseling, childcare, and food assistance—are available to all program participants. All programs and services are free.

Results: Progress is defined in many ways among the diverse group of women Mercy Learning Center serves. For women who come to MLC with little or no English language proficiency, progress comes when they are able to explain their symptoms to an emergency room doctor or count change at the grocery store. For students who struggle to make ends meet by working in a minimum wage position, success is celebrated when they receive a job promotion with an increase in wages. And, for the women who work towards completing their high school education, success is realized when they earn their diplomas. As a cohesive community, however, Mercy Learning Center students have a high rate of success. According the Connecticut State Department of Education, academically "Mercy Learning Center's adult education program consistently reflects high performance outcomes for its learners and has performed in the top 5% of the approximately 70 programs statewide." MLC basic and secondary-level students advance at rates that are double the federal and state guidelines, and our ESL students advance at rates nearly 50% higher than federal and state guidelines. Since the GED® preparation program began in 2003 and the NEDP® began in 2008, 229 women have graduated from MLC. The majority of our graduates have attended college, served in the armed forces, focused on raising their young children, or sustained “living wage” employment. During the 2014-15 program year, 65 MLC alumnae were enrolled in college or job certification programs. One graduate earned a master’s degree, 1 graduate earned a bachelor’s degree, 2 graduates earned associate’s degrees, 3 graduates earned college certificates, and 11 students and graduates completed career certifications. In addition, 85 students reported finding new jobs and 17 students, with help from MLC tutors, prepared for and passed the U.S. citizenship exam. Each of these achievements strengthens the overall Greater Bridgeport community by bringing about an increase in educated and skilled workers more engaged parents who actively advocate for their children’s education and increased economic stability and independence among families.

Target demographics: low-income, undereducated women and their families

Direct beneficiaries per year: 881 women and 169 children

Geographic areas served: Bridgeport, CT

Programs: litearcy and life skills education, high school diploma programs, citizenship education, computer skills, family literacy and more.

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

MLC provides a warm, inclusive, holistic approach to education for women in need. ESL, ABE, and GED classes are multi-leveled options, along with comprehensive tutoring and a comprehensive social services department. Success is measured based on personal goals set by individual students. Spread the word!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a tutor at Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport, CT. I have been teaching English Language Learning to women for 2 years. Initially, I didn't know what to expect, as I have no teaching background or experience. But to my relief, I found that the program is designed to support the tutors as well as the students. Over the last 4 semesters, I have met so many wonderful women and have learned so much from them in return.

Mercy Learning Center is an amazing organization. Their efficiency (never a penny wasted) is only exceeded by their enthusiasm. Corporate America could take lessons. The staff is professional, the environment welcoming and friendly.

The women speak different native languages from all over the world. They are so appreciative and eager to learn. I can't say enough about how rewarding the work is and how impactful Mercy Learning Center is to the lives of these folks; giving women and mom's the helping hand they need to integrate themselves and their families into our communities.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Mercy Learning Center as a math tutor for the last five years. I have found the organization to be an extremely effective force for good in the community. They do an extraordinary job of teaching and counseling mainly underprivileged and under-educated women. In many instances I have seen seen the positive life changing effect MLC has had on the women they serve and on their families as well. Their firm but compassionate guidance is evident every day I'm there. They efficiently provide a wide variety of services to their clients despite a very lean budget. The staff do not view their duties as a job but rather a calling. The Bridgeport community is richer by their presence.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer tutor for the past five years. Their mission is very important in these times. There is not one area I would change or improve.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mercy Learning Center is an amazing place! It's always humming with talking and teaching, smiles and laughter, encouragement and engagement. As a volunteer tutor, I love coming twice a week to meet with women from all over the world who are here to better themselves. They may want to get a high school or college degree, their US citizenship, a better job, or just improve their English enough to communicate effectively with their child's teacher and others whom they need to interact with daily. It's inspiring to see how dedicated they are to their education at this stage of their lives while they are juggling marriage,children,jobs, and school. As a tutor, I get to know wonderful women from all different backgrounds and cultures. The experience is as good for me as it is for them. That's why I love Mercy Learning Center!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mercy Learning Center is a great place for all women who would like to improve their life by learning English, getting a High School diploma or fulfilling the requirements for US citizenship. It is also a great place for the tutors, volunteers and all staff that makes the attainment of these goals possible. You will notice this the moment you step into the building. The atmosphere is always welcoming. All are treated with respect and caring and the idea that with personal determination and work personal goals are achievable.
As a retired teacher, I think I went to "Teacher heaven" when I became a tutor at Mercy Learning Center 4 years ago. All I needed to do was to teach my subject ( English) to students who were there to learn (Wow!) and who very much appreciated my efforts. (another Wow!) Textbooks and learning materials are provided gratis to the students. We tutors get total support from the staff with professional development days and advice as needed. This is a winning combination for all. Underserved women get a chance at something better in life while we the tutors get a chance to give back to the community and build a better world.

Linda Von A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mercy Learning Center is a warm and welcoming facility that improves the lives of women and their families every day through literacy programs that empower women. Students from all over the world come together in a community that enables growth and new opportunities that will impact families for generations. The facility is immaculate and the staff is exceptional. I highly recommend to support them through donations and volunteer efforts.

Gerald K.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After teaching for 43 years in the Westport CT Public Schools, I sought a superior institution in which to volunteer. After extensive research I chose to teach at the Mercy learning Center in Bridgeport which is simply the best run school in my long experience. After 8 years with MLC, I am even more enthusiastic about its mission statement of "Educate a Woman, educate a Family". MLC is a wholistic approach to education as it addresses the intellectual, emotional, economic and medical needs of its clients. The pervasive positive atmosphere of the school creates a welcoming environment in which to learn. Paid personnel and multitudes of volunteers work in synch to teach English to immigrants and those who had to curtail their educations. Each dollar donated to MLC is enhanced by educated women who enrich the environment in which they live.
Dr. Gerry Kuroghlian

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an English language tutor there this past year. Besides the joy I got from watching my students delight in learning our complicated language, I learned about myself, too. MLC makes it possible for women from challenging circumstances to learn, no questions asked. Every day was a pleasure!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mercy Learning Center is a rare gem. The vast array of services provided to women in need and their extended families makes MLC an invaluable asset to the greater Bridgeport community. The primary goal of educating low-income women in literacy and life skills empowers the students to improve their lots in life. Some will obtain a GED or citizenship, others will become fluent in English. Ultimately students end up improving their earning power and in turn improve the outlook for their children/future generations. Women can also see nurses, social workers and attorneys for assistance. There is a food pantry if someone is struggling with hunger. I could go on and on listing the resources available to those in need.

I can honestly say that volunteering at MLC has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mercy Learning Center is a very special place. You can just feel the positive energy when you walk through the doors here.

I began volunteering at Mercy upon my retirement a little over a year ago. I had been aware of the good works of this organization for many years and knew that I would one day end up here. What I didn’t know was how incredibly uplifting and gratifying the volunteer experience would be. I have the opportunity to observe the respectful collaboration among staff, teachers, tutors and students on a regular basis, and I am continually amazed by the life-changing experiences that happen daily. Seeing so many amazing women work so hard to become educated, gain self-respect and conquer difficult challenges is truly humbling.

Every single person at Mercy Learning Center is doing something significant and I am honored to be associated with this truly remarkable organization.

Review from Guidestar

1 Michele37

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been tutoring at Mercy for 8 years. Each of my students has come from a different background with different complications in their lives. Each has found themselves, later in life, serious about getting the education that they found unnecessary earlier. They came back with a renewed, mature and unwavering desire to learn. Sometimes they have had to overcome incredible obstacles just to come to class. At times I have seen an almost physical transformation with my students. They gain confidence, stand straighter, look you in the eye, and raise their life objectives. It is amazing and gratifying to be able to be a part of this process.

I have also served on the board of Mercy for 6 years and have held positions as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committees. My background is in corporate finance and I know how a good organization should be run. I can tell you that Mercy is incredibly well run, organized, financially sound, thoughtful and caring. I have every reason to believe Mercy will be around for the next 100 years, doing everything they can do to reduce the need for the long lines that they experience on registration day every fall.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Mercy Learning Center for the last nine years, first and ongoing as a tutor, and then additionally as a Board member, treasurer and committee member. In these varied capacities I feel I have gotten to know very well the organization, its leadership and its work. As a tutor I meet twice a week with a student, teachering her English, math and writing. This is the most rewarding volunteer work I have ever been engaged it. It's very gratifying to help someone one on one and to see my student advance. And it's very inspirational to get to know the students who are working so very hard to improve their and their families lives, coming to school while juggling jobs and family responsibilities. The organization is stellar, very well run with a hardworking and compassionate staff dedicated to the mission of educating and empowering women. They treat each woman with respect and offer the students a welcoming, safe place to learn. As the former treasurer I know that Mercy is very well run financially. Expenditures are well thought out, planned for and controlled. This year Mercy is undertaking some long-planned and much needed expansion of its building so that it can serve even more students.