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 literacy field as a whole 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 nonprofit ABE and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs in Massachusetts.

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

2018 Literacy Lab Presentations

Each year, 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. This year, the mini-conference will be held on Friday, October 26, 2018, from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM, at
District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue, Boston, located in Boston’s lively Seaport District. 

Schedule of 2018 First Literacy Lab Presentations

To register (by October 15) click here

General Directions, Pointers and Parking Options Close to District Hall

  • District Hall has two entrances: 75 Northern Ave. and 87 Seaport Blvd.
  • We recommend that participants take public transportation if possible because of the construction in the Seaport District. There are also several bike racks available in front of the entrance at 87 Seaport Blvd.
  • By MBTA: Take the Silver Line to the Courthouse stop. Walk about a block to District Hall.


  • Pilgrim Parking – One Marina Park Drive Garage
    One Marina Park Drive
    Boston, MA 02210
  • LAZ Parking – Watermark Seaport
    85 Seaport Boulevard
    Boston, MA 02210
  • One Seaport Parking Garage – Entrance located on Sleeper Street across from the Envoy Hotel
    1 Seaport Boulevard
    Boston, MA 02210

Example of a First Literacy Lab funded program

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

ESOL student caring for plants

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 or 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.