First Literacy Lab

First Literacy Lab  grants provide funding for the development, trial, and implementation of innovative Adult Basic Education (ABE) resources and practices. Annual grants of up to $5,000 are open to all nonprofit ABE and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs in Massachusetts. Grant projects focus on fresh approaches to instruction that improve the student experience, strengthen programs, and enrich the ABE field. There are many allowable uses for grants, including curriculum development, innovative classes, digital literacy, or program-wide special projects.

First Literacy Lab grants are unique in the field, providing

  • Flexible funding 
  • On-site technical assistance and support
  • Broad-based sharing of new curriculum resources
  • Direct adult learner impact

Supporting teachers, powering innovation

“Your contribution will enable MUA and First Literacy to achieve the mutual goal of providing participatory, learner-centered education that provides adult learners with the opportunity to improve their lives, to strengthen their parenting skills, and to reach their educational and professional goals.”

– Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, First Literacy Lab grant recipient

First Literacy Lab FY2020 RFP and Grant Information Sessions

The FY2020 RFP and Grant application are now available.

First Literacy Lab FY2020 RFP

First Literacy Lab FY2020 Grant Application

If you are interested in learning more about the First Literacy Lab grants, we encourage you to attend one of the following information sessions:
March 19th, 3:00 – 4:30 PM  Click here to register for this session.
March 20th, 10:00 – 11:30 AM  Click here to register for this session.

It is important for the lead teacher of each grant proposal to attend, so he or she understands the grant requirements. Grant writers and administrators are also welcome.  Please read the RFP carefully before attending the information session and bring your questions. Grant proposals are due on Wednesday, April 24th, at 5:00 p.m.  

First Literacy Lab Project Presentations

Each Fall, First Literacy hosts a half-day mini-conference where recipients present the results of their First Literacy Lab grants. This event is free and open to anyone interested in adult basic education. Each session is brief, and networking time is built into the event. Join our mailing list to make sure you receive an invitation to the next Literacy Lab Project Presentation event, which will be held on October 25, 2019.

Example of a First Literacy Lab funded program

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

In this class, ABCD used students’ interest in gardening to strengthen their English vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Hands-on activities included listening to and sharing a weather report, reading seed packet instructions, learning about 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 core ESOL classes are finished, this class kept students engaged, speaking, and learning.

Learn About Our
Literacy Lab Grant Recipients.

The First Literacy Lab grants for the 2018–2019 funding cycle support many hands-on and interactive curriculum ideas. These innovative, teacher-led projects incorporate everything from poetry and theater, to civics and science. Students will be getting out of the classroom, getting up on stage, and getting involved in their schools and communities.

Click here to view the full list of recipients and their project descriptions.

Apply for a Grant.

First Literacy Lab FY2020 RFP

First Literacy Lab FY2020 Grant Application

The First Literacy Lab Fiscal Year 2019-20 Request for Proposals (RFP) and Grant Application are now available. Both documents (links above) are PDF files. If you’d like to receive a Microsoft Word version of the application that can be used as a template, please contact

Ask a Question.

For more information about First Literacy Lab grants, please contact Program Manager, Evonne Peters, at

o join our mailing list.