First Literacy Lab



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ESOL student potting seeds

The goal of First Literacy Lab is to provide grants to stimulate and support the development, trial, and implementation of Adult Basic Education (ABE) resources and practices that have an impact on specific students, programs, and the ABE field. The First Literacy Lab initiative strengthens individual programs and the Adult Basic Education field by cultivating innovative ideas and creative problem-solving.  Grants are made in the amount of up to $5,000.00 and are open to all ABE non-profit programs in Massachusetts.

First Literacy Lab Grants are unique in the field, providing
flexible funding not available from traditional funding sources;
direct adult-learner impact;
broad-based sharing of findings;
on-site technical assistance and support.

Questions? Please contact Lenore Balliro, Director of Programs, by email at lballiro@firstliteracy.org or by phone at 617-482-3336 x. 13.

2018/2019 First Literacy Literacy Lab RFP and Proposal Form

First Literacy Literacy Lab grants will be posted here on September 4, 2018 and will be due on September 25, 2018. You will be notified of our decision by October 16.

We have made some changes from previous years. This year, we will not differentiate between “innovation grants” and “program strengthening grants.” DESE funded programs are eligible to apply for grants. We are looking for fresh, creative, and educationally sound projects that enhance student learning and strengthen programs in the process. A Literacy Lab project should enliven your curriculum and help you reach your intended teaching and learning goals with fresh approaches. We have identified two priority areas:

  1. Experiential Learning (Any discipline-including ESOL, ABE, GED, HiSet)
    • Projects that move students away from reliance on the workbook, worksheet, and computer screen (for example: collaborations with community organizations, cultural sites, nature centers, community gardens; science experiments; cooking and food as ways to explore culture…)
    • Projects that integrate expressive arts into learning (for example: drama/ improvisation, creative writing, using film in the classroom, music, song, visual art…)
  2. Civic Participation and Citizenship
    • Projects that focus on integrating civic awareness and civic engagement
    • Projects that enhance paths to citizenship

We will still consider proposals outside of the priority areas. If you have an idea you would like to discuss further, you are welcome to reach out to Lenore Balliro, Director of Programs, at 617-482-3336 x13 or at lballiro@firstliteracy.org

We will have at least one information session this summer, so watch for details.

If you would like to be placed on our mailing list for further updates, please contact Paula Dincer at  pdincer@firstliteracy.org.

Example of a First Literacy Lab funded program

ABCD Mattapan 3
ESOL Student caring for plants

Summer ESOL Gardening Class
Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)

ABCD developed this project after observing that many of their ESOL students had an interest in and experience with gardening, but did not know what plants grow in Boston and in many cases did not have enough room to garden. Students received ESOL instruction and hands-on experience on the environment, gardening, plants and vegetables, comparing practices in their countries and the US.

The gardening class used the students’ interest in the topic to strengthen their English vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Activities included listening to and sharing a weather report, reading seed packet instructions, uses for different plants (medicinal, culinary, decorative), filling out an application for a community garden, and keeping a gardening journal. Because summer can be a time when students’ newly learned skills fall out of use, and ESOL classes are finished, this class kept students engaged, speaking, and learning.

Click here to see a full list of First Literacy Lab funded projects.

Would you like to learn more about our funded First Literacy Lab projects? Join our mailing list for an invitation to our annual First Literacy Lab Project Presentations this fall.