Vita Education Services provides quality educational programs that help individuals gain skills that enhance their ability to deal with real-life situations, meet personal goals and become more self-determining and self-sufficient.
Background and History
Since 1971, Vita has provided free, accessible educational services to the educationally disadvantaged, underserved populations in Bucks County. Founded by a Judge from the Court of Common Pleas as an all volunteer pilot, the purpose was to help young adults on probation and parole break the pattern of recidivism. Volunteers were trained and matched one-on-one with probationers and parolees, providing personal support, tutoring in a cognitively based, decision-making curriculum and helping them apply the skills to their own life situations. The program, now called Decisions for Living (DFL), was developed in Bucks County. Vita has revised it over the years to be more current and relevant.
The majority of probationers involved in the program had very limited reading and writing skills. With no adult basic education services available in the county, the agency began a volunteer-based literacy program to meet this need. The ensuing history of the agency is based on the expansion of its two basic programs, decision making and literacy, to meet emerging needs in the community as well as in the correctional setting.
Today, Vita is the largest provider of educational services in the jail, taught by both trained volunteers and professional staff. Vita is also the lead literacy agency in the County. Programs in the jail include: DFL groups, one-on-one tutoring in DFL and literacy; Jobs Readiness program; and Decsions for a Better Life workshops. All but the one-on-one tutoring programs are fee-for-service, paid for by the Department of Corrections. Free literacy programs are delivered throughout the County, including basic literacy, preparation for GED, Family Literacy, and extensive programs in English as a Second Language (ESL).
Vita’s administrative offices are in Doylestown. Vita is also co-located at Saint Mary Family Resource Center in Bensalem with Catholic Social Services, the YWCA and the Bucks County Housing Group. The Family Literacy program is a collaborative effort with Bensalem Township and Bristol Township school districts and Head Start. Family Literacy classes are held in the Head Start building in Bensalem and FDR Middle School in Bristol. GED and ESL Classes are held in three high schools, at an apartment complex in Bensalem, at PA CareerLink© in Bristol, and at the Family Resource Center in Bensalem. Tutor-led groups meet in Vita’s offices, in libraries and in churches throughout the County.
Vita has also developed a Decisions model, Decisions for Teens, that has been taught in many settings for at-risk youth.
How is Vita funded?
Vita is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded by the PA Department of Education, United Way of Bucks County, fee-for-service programs, the County and Courts of Bucks, foundations, and donations from civic organizations, corporations, churches and individuals. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations to the agency are tax deductible.