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Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA)

 Organization

Dates

  • Existence: 1976 -

Historical Information

The Lafayette Adult Reading Academy (LARA) is a federally and state-funded Adult Basic Education Program. LARA provides services such as assisting others in their academic skills, computer skills, literacy (family, financial, reading), job readiness, life skills and GED preparation.

LARA was formed in 1976 after several community leaders identified that the one existing adult education program in Tippecanoe County was not meeting the literacy needs of Lafayette. At the time, Lafayette was the largest urban area in Tippecanoe County and had a variety of literacy needs. The unemployment rate was 4 per cent, 60 per cent of teens did not achieve a high school diploma, and approximately 235 of county residents 18 and older had less than 12 years of formal education. To address this need, Purdue University Education Professor Alden Moe wrote a literacy proposal to the United States Office of Education, Right to Read Initiative which was funded as long as the program be called a Reading Academy. None of the county school corporations would house the program however the YWCA of Greater Lafayette showed interest and then became the fiscal agent for the Reading Academy. It was inaugurated by JoAnne Vorst, one of Professor Moe’s graduate students and future Director of the Academy, and Pauline Hill, Executive Director of the YWCA at the time. The YWCA donated the first floor and basement of their building at 604 House (604 N 6th Street) to the Academy, which was initially known as the YWCA Reading Academy.

The academy had three years of funding from Right to Read after which JoAnn Vorst applied for a grant continuation in addition to a grant for Adult Basic Education (ABE) from the State of Indiana. "The strong community support, learner interest, and program accomplishments resulted in the approval of both federal (Right to Read) and state (ABE) funding in 1979" (LARA Advisory Board, 2002-2005). In 1979, JoAnn Vorst and Pauline Hill recognized that the Academy should be placed under the umbrella of a local educational agency. That summer, the Lafayette School Corporation (LSC) "incorporated the Academy into its structure and became the fiscal agent for state funds" while the YWCA continued to manage federal funds (LARA Advisory Board, 2002-2005). Renamed as the Lafayette Adult Reading Academy (LARA), LARA continued to receive additional federal and state funding, as well as support from local agencies, organizations, and private individuals which allowed them to expand their services including the establishment of satellite centers at Wabash Center, the Tippecanoe County Jail, and other sites.

In 1990, LARA ended its formal partnership with the YWCA and LSC became the fiscal agent for both federal and state funds, however, it continued to operate out of the space at the YWCA's 604 Building due to support by United Way. In 1995, LARA moved to the Tippecanoe County building at 629 N. 6th Street, enabling them to create a unified English as a Second Language program.

In 1998, the Workforce Investment Act changed the scope of instruction for adult education and all programs that received federal funds under Title 11 (The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) had to partner with the newly established Workforce Investment Board. This required LARA to work with the community and provide accessible literacy services for Work-One participants in addition to anyone in need of these services. The English as a Second Language program was renamed English Literacy (EL) and "programs were encouraged to provide workplace and family literacy services as well. In addition, benchmarks were set in which ABE programs were required to meet performance objectives in areas of skill improvement, employment, secondary accreditation, and post-secondary education" (LARA Advisory Board, 2002-2005).

LARA changed its name in 2001 to the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy to incorporate the diverse curriculum and services available for native and non-English speakers, public offenders, workforce participants, and qualifying parents and children. The program moved to 324 South Street. The new space allowed LARA to grow the ABE and EL programs and they were able to consolidate several of the non-residential satellites.

On July 1, 2016, LARA became a non-profit 501-c3 status under the governance of the Lafayette Educational Opportunities (LEO) which had previously been an extension of LARA responsible for fundraising. LARA's advisory board was dissolved and a governing board was established in its place.

LARA has won many awards and recognition over the years, including the prestigious United States Department of Education Secretary's Award for Adult Education and Literacy Programs.

Citation

Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. (2002-2005). History. Lafayette Adult Resource Academy records, Purdue Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Citation

[Correspondence]. Lafayette Adult Resource Academy Collection File, Purdue Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA) records, addition 01

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20160104.1

Lafayette Adult Resource Academy (LARA) records, addition 02

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20170209.2