Outcomes of First Literacy’s multi-faceted approach to serving adult learners vary with the type of support given.

In 2016, First Literacy supported 13 community-based literacy programs totaling $190,193, including $65,063 for Literacy Lab grants, $25,300 for scholarships and mentors, and $5,668 for literacy awareness activities. This support resulted in measurable outcomes for the adult learners who attended classes or received services funded by our grants, including:

Program Support

  • 580 adult learners participated in 15 First Literacy Lab project grants.
  • 469 students participated in projects that strengthened their programs.
  • 111 students from projects that will improve the entire field.
  • 7 programs developed new curriculum to better serve students.
  • 248 students learned English by exploring their own stories/neighborhoods.
  • 95 students received innovative instruction to prepare for high school equivalency.

Professional Development

  • 18 workshops were held throughout the academic year.
  • 381 attendees participated.
  • 6,154 adult students were impacted.
  • 54 hours of professional development were presented.
  • 94 programs sent to educators to workshops.
  • 106 educators attended more than one workshop.
  • 95% of attendees feel invigorated after attending a workshop.


  • 13 first-time scholarships were awarded.
  • 9 continuing scholarships were awarded.
  • 15 countries are represented among scholars.
  • 77% attend Bunker Hill Community College.
  • 2 scholars attend UMass Boston
  • 1 scholar attends Urban College, 1 attends North Shore Community College, and 1 attends Quincy College.

Since the introduction of the First Literacy Lab initiative in 2014, we have encouraged and supported the development of innovative resources and approaches at 20 literacy programs located throughout Greater Boston, including many of the neighborhoods of Boston, Cambridge, Everett, Somerville, and Watertown. The number of students initially impacted by these innovative projects range from seven to 73 and total 0ver 1,500. These grants support seeds that continue to germinate, nourishing ABE students, classes, and programs for years.

The impact and importance of professional development for ABE teachers and other staff cannot be overstated. It leads to more effective teaching, more learning, and more effective overall program services. Since October 2011, First Literacy has hosted 50 professional development workshops. Over 500 unduplicated adult educators have participated, representing 225+ adult education programs and 10,000+ unduplicated adult learners. Sharing resources and implementing techniques goes beyond the attendees in the room. Through post-surveys, we learned that educators return to their programs ready to share with their colleagues, thereby circulating the materials and methods presented in the workshop and expanding our collective efforts. In 2014, First Literacy launched an online forum and resource center, enabling workshop participants and those not able to attend the workshops to access the materials presented, pose questions, and share ideas and resources, thus further magnifying the impact of our professional and leadership development.

Since the Scholarship Program was initiated in 1990, we have awarded over 400 scholarships. The recipients of this support tell the success of this program best:

I am a single parent and primary role model of my 12-year-old daughter. I have lived in Cambridge since birth… Parenting, working, and family caretaking has been my life. I have purposefully created education opportunities for my daughter. I recognized my own yearning for an education which had to be delayed while I raised my brother, was caretaker for my mentally ill mother, and created an independent self-supporting business. With this scholarship, I can now attend college. I have gotten all A’s and am using what I learned in business classes to improve the way I run my small business.
With hard work and determination, … I reached my goal and earned a GED. It opened the door to new opportunities. And now I have the opportunity to continue my education, to achieve my dream of going to college.
I now know that there is no age or time limit for beginning my new life. Class has showed me what direction to take to achieve my goal. I have learned that no matter how difficult my situation, I should never give up.