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.

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

“Funding from First Literacy is unrestricted in terms of immigration or welfare status, referral systems, residency, or employability. It allowed us to meet the needs of low/non-literate learners who can’t be accommodated in larger, multi-level classes.”

Literacy Lab 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 our next annual Project Presentations.

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, and home-country experience with 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, 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.

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. A significant number of funded projects also focus on family literacy.

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

Apply for a Grant.

The First Literacy Lab Request for Proposals will be released in early spring.

To be the first to hear about the RFP for the 2019-2020 grant cycle,  Join Our Mailing List.

Ask a Question.

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