PA Forward


PA Forward is a campaign created by the Pennsylvania Library Association to help Pennsylvanians improve essential 21st century literacy skills.

Through emphasis in five areas of literacy: basic, information, civic and social, health, financial, the Erie County Public Library is connecting our community members with the tools they need for success.




Find programs at the Erie County Public Libraries in each of these literacy categories by viewing our event calendar.


Basic Literacy programs include: early learning, STEAM, workforce development, adult basic education, stopping recidivism, and functional literacy.

We envision a Pennsylvania with one of the highest literacy rates in the country, a trained and skilled workforce, and growing economy, tax base, and population.

Why does basic literacy matter?

  • Roughly 50% of the nation’s unemployed youth (ages 16-21) are functionally illiterate.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 juveniles interfacing with the court system are functionally illiterate.
  • Approximately 13% of Pennsylvanians lack basic literacy skills such as the ability to read a newspaper or brochure. This percentage of Pennsylvanians who struggle with basic literacy remains unchanged from 1992.
  • Thirty-eight percent of basic readers said their reading level limited their job prospects.

Information Literacy programs include: digital literacy, evaluating the credibility of a source, understanding library organization, and the ability to access information in multiple formats, or in multiple vehicles.

We envision a Pennsylvania where citizens know how to use online resources and current technology to improve their education, to enhance their job skills and to fully participate in society.

Why does Information Literacy matter?

  • Senior citizens are the fastest growing group of internet users. They are also the most vulnerable to internet fraud
  • 3 out of 4 job seekers now use the internet to seek for employment.
  • Over 25% of Americans do not have broadband internet access in their homes.
  • Approximately 70% of health information on the internet is misleading.

Civic and Social Literacy programs include: the ability to connect with others through discourse and knowledge, skills to improve an individual’s life, and to participate and contribute to community life, government, and society.

We envision a Pennsylvania where citizens have the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives, to participate and contribute effectively to their communities, and to connect with one another through discourse.

Why does Civic & Social Literacy matter?

  • Less than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government.
  • Readers are more than twice as likely as non-readers to volunteer or do charity work.
  • Only 55% of all Americans know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the President. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.

Health Literacy programs include: how to manage self care and family care, partnerships with health care providers, and understanding health issues.

We envision a Pennsylvania with active citizens able to manage their own and their family’s well being, empowered to be effective partners with their healthcare providers, and living longer, more productive lives.

Why does Civic & Social Literacy matter?

  • Nothing – not age, income, employment status, education level, or racial and ethnic background – affects health status more than literacy skills.
  • 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.
  • Patients with inadequate health literacy are diagnosed with cancer at a later stage.
  • Up to 20% of personal healthcare expenditures relate to higher rates of hospitalization and higher use of expensive emergency services by lower literate patients.

Financial Literacy programs include: personal finance, investing, real estate, college planning, retirement, tax planning, and starting and managing a small business.

We envision a Pennsylvania where citizens are informed consumers and individuals, small businesses, and organizations contribute to the economic vitality of their community through innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

Why does Financial Literacy matter?

  • 3/4 of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high-school diploma, only 50% of our citizens have that level of education.
  • 1 in 4 adults do not pay bills on time. 1 in 3 have no savings or retirement savings.
  • Proficient readers are 2.5 times as likely to be earning $850 or more a week.