Catholic Charities of Boston’s El Centro Adult Education Program Named an Innovator in Adult Education

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


Catholic Charities of Boston’s El Centro Adult Education Program Named an Innovator in Adult Education

El Centro is One of Nine Organizations Selected Nationally, Only One of Two in Massachusetts

BOSTON (September 21, 2021) – Catholic Charities of Boston announced today that its El Centro adult education program has been recognized as an innovative practice in adult education by the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education project, led by Manhattan Strategy Group. The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), seeks to identify adult education programs that are advancing the field of adult education. Catholic Charities’ El Centro is one of nine practices selected nationally for modeling innovative holistic approaches to serving adult learners. As a part of our recognition, we are featured in a report, gallery of innovative practices, and a recorded webinar released in observance of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week on the US DOE site at

“We are thrilled to be recognized as an innovator in adult education. It is truly a testament to our dedicated staff of educators and our committed and resilient students,” said Marianna Geraskina, El Centro’s Director of Education.

Geraskina continued, “Being a part of a large community based human services organization, El Centro offers learners access to Catholic Charities’ services that address the varied needs of individuals and multigenerational families including food, shelter; elder care, education and career training,  immigration, legal, and resettlement services, child care and out-of-school programs, mentoring programs for high-risk youth, parent and family engagement programs, and case management services to address housing, financial, medical, transportation, and food security needs. The agency supports clients in all aspects of life, which is an integral part of El Centro’s success.”

Most El Centro learners are Black and Latinx immigrant community residents working in low-wage, part-time jobs who want to improve their employment options. The goal of the program is to develop a pathway that prepares learners to succeed in postsecondary education and training leading to meaningful careers and economic self-sufficiency.  

As described in the national press-release of the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education Project, El Centro is “unique in its focus on preparing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners to transition to college through reading, writing, and math instruction, college preparation activities, learner advising, and wraparound supports provided by Catholic Charities.”

“It is important to shine a light on innovative practices that adult education programs are using to meet the evolving needs of adult learners. The nine practices we’ll be showcasing are illustrative of the types of activities that adult education programs have implemented, using a holistic approach to carry out adult education. The work of the staff leading these practices reinforces that adult education programs need to consider adult learners’ intellectual, social, physical, and emotional needs. So many individuals who already had barriers to employment have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. Innovation may be more important now than ever to get people back to work and on a pathway that offers real opportunity,” said Cheryl Keenan, Director of the Division of Adult Education and Literacy, U.S. Department of Education.


About Catholic Charities of Boston's El Centro adult education

Catholic Charities of Boston’s mission is to welcome and serve, with compassion and respect, all those in need by providing life’s necessities, education, and advocacy to move families toward self-sufficiency. The Catholic Charities El Centro adult education program has long recognized the interdependence of English language learning and continued education for economic fortitude. Founded in 1957, El Centro was among the first programs in the state to provide ESOL classes for adult immigrants. Over the years, the program has helped thousands of people to adjust in their new home country: to learn the language and culture, to find jobs, to become responsible members of the community.

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About the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education Project

The Advancing Innovation in Adult Education Project is a 3-year effort to identify and highlight innovative practices in adult education that lead to improved learner outcomes. Since the inception of the Advancing Innovation project, 18 adult education programs have been named as innovative. To learn more about Advancing Innovation in Adult Education: visit the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education Project at The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and is executed by Manhattan Strategy Group and Abt Associates.