First Literacy provides grants to neighborhood literacy programs to increase access to English and essential educational skills. We have awarded over $5 million in grants since 1988. Our grant process and priorities foster program innovation and effectiveness. First Literacy works with funded organizations to help them succeed so that the adults in their classes will make educational progress. In return, we expect accountability and outcomes, including strong learner educational achievement and clear indicators of progress toward program goals.

In the 2013-2015 funding cycle, First Literacy awarded 19 two-year grants totaling $225,000. Our grants support basic education for adults, including family literacy, literacy through high school credentials, ESOL, math, peer tutoring, counseling, childcare, special projects, and computer skills. Current grant recipients are located in Cambridge, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Fenway, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, South Boston, and Watertown. We also support several citywide programs. Learn more about our partner programs>>


First Literacy will accept proposals from community-based, nonprofit organizations that operate an adult literacy/ABE program in Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, or Watertown. All applicants must have 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal agent with that status.

Grant Management


Grant payments are made after organizations reach benchmarks:

Site Visits

Every year, First Literacy conducts thorough site visits to all of our partner programs. First Literacy’s Director of Programs, accompanied by a CAC or First Literacy staff member, visits each ABE program, observing classes, meeting with administrators, teachers, and learners. This way, First Literacy gets a well-rounded view of programs’ projects and overall operations, from different points of view. A detailed report is made, with commendations and recommendations, and sent to programs.

These site visits function as both grant management and technical assistance vehicles. It is during site visits that the Director of Programs can discuss program and staff development priorities with program staff, often suggesting processes or resources that can be of immediate use to programs.
Site Visit Form (PDF) »