Mission, Vision, and History


Funding innovation in adult literacy to change lives.


We know that by supporting the front line in adult education, teachers, tutors, program administrators and students benefit. Our goals are to:

  • offer free best practice workshops for teachers and other adult education professionals;
  • encourage, support, and share innovative practices, curriculum and resources through our First Literacy Lab program grant initiative; and
  • award scholarships and provide support for adult learners who are starting college.

Since First Literacy was established, we have

  • helped 50,000+ adults improve their lives and their families’ futures by achieving their educational goals
  • raised awareness and allocated more than $6 million for adult literacy
  • given thousands of hours of free technical assistance to literacy programs and professional development to teachers
  • awarded 500 college scholarships


Mayor Raymond Flynn in 1988 with BALF supporters

In 1988, a consortium of public and private sector leaders, including Mayor Raymond Flynn and Boston Globe publisher William O. Taylor, established the Boston Adult Literacy Fund (BALF) to expand and improve Adult Basic Education (ABE) in Boston. Twenty years later, BALF became First Literacy. Our professional development workshops for adult educators, our grants and technical assistance to literacy programs, and our scholarships to literacy students work in concert to support adult literacy in and around Greater Boston and throughout Massachusetts.