The Literacy & Life Skills Initiative Empowering Women

By Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is pleased to welcome Mercy Learning Center to our Grantee Blog. Mercy Learning Center, a nonprofit organization based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, provides basic literacy and life skills training for socioeconomically underserved women in a compassionate and supportive environment.

Courtesy of  Mercy Learning Center

Mercy Learning Center empowers low-income women through education to achieve their dreams and have confidence in their abilities.

Mercy Learning Center provides the education and social services necessary for students to prioritize their education. Through its Literacy & Life Skills Program, classroom instruction, technology education, and employment and life skills trainings from certified teachers and highly-trained tutors are complimented by additional onsite services including childcare and preschool.

When students can find the support they need—whether through the organization’s food and diaper pantry, college and career counseling, citizenship assistance, or access to caseworkers and referrals for legal and medical services—they can consistently attend classes, prioritize their education, and break down barriers in learning. Participants also have the flexibility to attend the program part-time or full-time, depending on their needs at any point in time. Many students work up to three jobs in addition to coming to class.

Read more about one inspiring and determined graduate pursuing her master’s degree:

Student, mother, wife, and registered nurse, Mami, is the embodiment of Mercy Learning Center’s motto: “Educate a woman…educate a family.”

In 2001, Mami and her husband arrived in Bridgeport, Connecticut as refugees from South Africa. They had fled to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to escape the civil war in her home country. With very limited knowledge of the English language, Mami began a new life in Bridgeport.

Mami’s journey with Mercy Learning Center began the very next year. Her son was one year old and attended our free childcare program so that Mami could go to class. He was one of the first babies that Maria Moreno, our Childcare Director, cared for when she started her career at Mercy 19 years ago!

Mami learned how to speak, read, and write English in our ESL classes and earned her high school diploma in 2009 through our intensive study program. Mami became a U.S. citizen five years later with the support of our social services team.

She went on to earn her associate degree at Housatonic Community College, and graduated from St. Vincent’s College as a Registered Nurse in 2016. Mami now serves as a Nursing Supervisor and is working on her master’s degree. Mercy Learning Center was here to support Mami in securing scholarships, navigating the admissions process and more.

We look forward to empowering thousands of women and their children through education in the many years to come.

About Mercy Learning Center

Mercy Learning Center provides basic literacy and life skills training to women with low income using a holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive environment. All women are welcome without regard for race, religion, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin.

Learn more about Mercy Learning Center by visiting