First Literacy Lab

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 or by phone at 617-482-3336 x. 13.

FY 2018 First Literacy Lab RFP and Proposal Form

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.

Want to learn more about our funded First Literacy Lab projects? Join our mailing list for an invitation to the 5th annual First Literacy Lab Project Presentations this fall.