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Giving Adults a Chance

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Giving Adults a Chance

Prince William Public Libraries

Education - Adults | 2021

Innovation Summary

Prince William Public Libraries embraced the importance of lifelong learning and introduced new library programs such as Career Online High School and Learning Circle. Adults now have access to cost-free education and skills building in a welcoming, supportive environment that eliminates embarrassment, lack of confidence and fear of failure.

Problem Statement

In Prince William County, it is estimated that 40,000 adults do not have a high school diploma. In addition, the county has high proportions of residents with limited English proficiency. Many of these adults do not have opportunities for improvement. Due to lack of education and skills, they are more vulnerable to fall into the low-income category, and consequently, cannot afford further education. Such adults also often feel uncomfortable with revealing their weaknesses. They need the extra support to move forward.


Prince William Public Libraries (PWPL) became a partner of Career Online High School (COHS) and offers scholarships to qualified adult learners. Students – through a flexible, supportive, online program – earn a high school diploma and a career certification and gain the skills and tools they need to start or advance their career. In addition, we launched Learning Circle, a model of facilitated and supportive small-group learning for adults with limited English, academic or digital skills.


PWPL currently has six students enrolled in COHS. Earning a high school diploma is a life-changing achievement for them. No less impactful is gaining the skills needed to apply for a job online or be able to talk to a doctor without a translator, both of which are topics of focus in Learning Circle. By offering these programs, we’re empowering our residents to seek new opportunities and transform their lives. Each program participant, every new skill gained, and every improved life represent a success of these programs.