The Importance of Adult Education

Adult literacy empowers, lifts each adult learner, their family, and their community, but is often overlooked in our national dialogue on education.

First Literacy serves adult learners at the program level with new project grant support, in their classrooms with free teacher training, and directly toward their educational goals with scholarships and peer mentoring.

At the program level:

First Literacy Lab Grants 2017-2018

Since the introduction of the First Literacy Lab initiative in 2014, we have supported the development of innovative resources and approaches at literacy programs across Massachusetts with unique hands-on technical support and field-wide sharing of project results. Grants are made in the amount of up to $5,000.00, are unrestricted, and open to all ABE nonprofit programs in Massachusetts.

  • 361 adult learners participated in 12 First Literacy Lab project grants.
  • 58 students in three programs made gains in computer mastery.
  • 51 students expressed pride and increased confidence in writing in English.
  • 31 students in two programs built English-speaking confidence by exploring their communities.
  • 47 students expressed increased interest and confidence in reading in English.
  • 110 students reported improved proficiency in mathematical thinking and vocabulary.
“Funding from First Literacy, that is unrestricted in terms of eligibility (immigration status, welfare status, referral systems, residence or employability), allows us to create and maintain our specialized morning class for non- or low-literacy learners. Simply, First Literacy funding ensures literacy instruction for the highest-need students.”

For teachers in the classroom:

Professional Development 2017-2018

Recognizing from survey results that we have become one of the only resources for free professional development for adult educators from privately funded programs, we have doubled our workshop offerings. This year

  • 27 workshops were offered covering 14 topics, in 75 hours of FREE teacher training;
  • 272 adult educators attended;
  • 88 Massachusetts programs participated, including 27 NEW programs;
  • 63 different towns and cities, including 16 Boston neighborhoods and 7 NEW towns were reached;
  • 5 NEW state regions hosted workshops sponsored by First Literacy;
  • More than 7,400 adult students were impacted;
  • 110 attendees were first-time participants;
  • 65% of programs represented are NOT funded by DESE (the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education);
  • ALL workshop materials are posted on this website for immediate open online access.
“I always come away reinvigorated by the presenters and the attendees at the First Literacy Workshops. I am not paid for attending PD and am not reimbursed for attending MCAE so I especially appreciate your wonderful workshops. They keep me going! Thank you!”

Toward the student’s educational goals:

Scholarships (2018-2019 Academic Year)

Since the Scholarship Program was initiated in 1990, we have awarded over 500 scholarships. Eligibility is based only on recommendation from the student’s ABE program, acceptance to a college program, and proof of financial need, NOT on immigration, residence or employment status. This year

  • 12 first-time applicants received awards;
  • 10 continuing students were awarded with second-year scholarships;
  • 15 countries are represented among recipients;
  • 90% of recipients attend Massachusetts community colleges, two attend four-year programs;
  • 100% are first-generation college students, and
  • 60% are parents.
  • Our Continuing Scholars maintain an average GPA of 3.6 and
  • 100% participated in the peer support and mentoring sponsored by First Literacy.
“I now know that there is no age or time limit for beginning my new life. First Literacy has shown me what direction to take to achieve my goal. I have learned that no matter how difficult my situation, I should never give up.”