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Creative funding for Adult Ed keeps learning on the agenda

URBANA -- Lack of funding has forced the Urbana Adult Education Center to cut programs.
URBANA -- Lack of funding has forced the Urbana Adult Education Center to cut programs. Now it's starting a campaign to raise millions of dollars. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has the story.

More than 100 students graduate from the school each year. It's come up with creative ways to stay open with serious budget cuts. The majority of its funding comes from the government, so it's looking at ways to fund itself.

"Knowing what I've accomplished, and knowing what's ahead of me, it's just special."

Inside the walls of the Urbana Adult Education Center, lives are being changed. But, funding has made it difficult.

"Over the years, we have suffered numerous budget cuts, but we've tried to maintain a quality staff and a quality program."

Some programs were cut, but they want to rely less on government funding. This month, leaders started a campaign to raise $5 million over the next five years.

"Some of the funds that will be raised, at least $1 million or more of the funds that we raise, will go to upgrade the facility."

Upgrades to the computers, creating scholarships and helping students like Rebecca Rawlings, once a teen mom who didn't finish high school.

"Without this program, a lot of people would not be able to get their education. It's just a great place to come. Everybody is very helpful, in good spirits and encouraging. I really enjoyed being here. I'm going to miss it."

Tuesday, she had her exit interview as she prepares to enroll at Parkland College to get a degree in computer science.

"No matter what your age is, you can do what you want to do. It's never too late."

She won't be here to see the changes to the school, but she knows the good work will continue.

"I hope they continue doing the greatness of teaching anybody that wants to further their education and get their diploma."

The core of the fundraising will come from public donations. With upgraded technology, it will also look at creating STEM classes which focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
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