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For nineteen years, Mercy Learning Center, a community–based literacy organization, has provided basic literacy instruction to low–income women in Bridgeport, Connecticut. During that time the Center has grown from three students and two tutors to 450 students, 155 tutors, and fi ve full–time teachers. Th is growth has been aff ected by changes in welfare regulations and increased immigration. Using what it describes as a “holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive community,” the Center provides instruction that goes beyond the usual boundaries of basic literacy. With its expansive defi nition of basic literacy, Mercy Learning Center’s experience off ers a model for sustaining a woman–centered community literacy program through nearly two decades of changing political conditions and educational needs.



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