National Coalition for Literacy Announces Presidential Candidate Survey

The National Coalition for Literacy (NCL), partnering with NCL member ProLiteracy, recently sent a survey on adult education issues to the 2016 Presidential candidates, highlighting the critical relationship between adult education issues and our nation’s economic and social well-being. As we noted in our letter to the candidates, improving America’s economic competitiveness will remain a daunting challenge for the next President as long as there continues to be 36 million American adults with low basic reading, writing, and math skills. This literacy skills gap costs our nation billions of dollars annually in lost revenue and in increased costs for health care, corrections, welfare, and unemployment.

We plan to publish the responses we receive here on the NCL Web site. In addition, we are making the materials developed for this initiative freely available for use/adaptation by state and local advocates. These materials include a fact sheet, a copy of the survey, and a copy of the letter we sent the candidates. Feel free to modify our questionnaire for other races—and let us know if you receive any responses.

Candidate Survey

Fact Sheet

Letter to Candidates

NCL Launches “Adult Education Brings the American Dream in Reach” Campaign

NCL Logo

If you could only read as well as a third grader, what would it be like to apply for a job?

If you couldn’t speak English, what would you say to your child’s teacher on Back-to-School Night?

If you couldn’t do basic math, what would it be like to pay your bills each month?

Making a better life for yourself and your family is the American Dream. But that dream is out of reach to millions of Americans, native and foreign-born, because they struggle to read, write, do basic math, and speak English–and we’re all paying the price. It’s a problem we can’t fix without your help.

How we help

With a challenge this big, our country can’t afford not to act. We, as members of the National Coalition for Literacy, are the boots on the ground, the teachers in the classroom, the researchers, community leaders, and the voices on Capitol Hill. Together, we work to make sure every adult has the skills they need to find and keep a job, educate their kids, and work toward their piece of the American Dream.

We know fixing the problem means tackling it from the ground up and the top down. So we’re educating policymakers about the human, social, and actual costs of low literacy. We’re raising much-needed resources to bring more programs to our communities. We’re sharing research-based practices about the unique needs of adult learners, and how we can all benefit when people have the skills to participate in the 21 century workforce. And we’re working directly with adult learners as they pursue the skills they need to boost their self-sufficiency and chance at future success.

We need you

Too many adults across our nation lack the skills they need to get and keep a job, support their families, and succeed in life.  You can be a part of the solution, and we have lots of ways—big and small—that you can help. Please consider donating $10, $25, $100, or even more to our campaign. Together, we can help put more people on the path to self-sufficiency and success.

Please join NCL in bringing the American Dream within reach through your donation. Visit our Donate page and click on the green Donate Now button.

National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Fully Fund Adult Education in 2016

NCL 2016 Omnibus LetterThis week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to ensure that the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, now being negotiated following the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) earlier this month, includes support for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) at least at the FY 2016 authorized level of $622 million.

Earlier this year, under the old caps imposed by sequestration, the Senate proposed funding WIOA Title II adult education programs $35 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, cutting Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants by $29 million, and Adult Education National Leadership Activities by $6 million. As we noted then, after the overwhelming bipartisan support for the passage of WIOA last year, it was disappointing to see adult education funded at levels below those authorized by that legislation. With the passage of the BBA, Congress now has the funds needed to fully support WIOA programs.

NCL is not alone in requesting that adult education under WIOA be fully funded:

  • In a letter sent to Congress on November 12th, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce called on appropriators to “fund adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at authorized levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills are able to strengthen their educational levels in order to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.”
  • The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education has also asked Congress to fully fund WIOA Tittle II at the authorized level, reminding appropriators that WIOA “established adult education as one of the four key programs in the workforce system because it recognized the crucial role adult education plays in educating our population, teaching English and civics, and preparing adults for occupational training, to enter the workforce, or improve their employment status…. That is why the $622 million authorized in WIOA in FY 2016 for Title II is so important.
  •  The American Association of Community Colleges has also urged Congress to increase funding for adult education in the bill, noting that “demand for these programs far outstrips supply, as tens of thousands of individuals remain on service waitlists. In FY 2013, funding for this program was slashed and has not substantially recovered.

NCL members have also been contacting with members of Congress over the last two weeks with a similar message. Appropriations subcommittees have been asked to complete their work on funding levels of their respective bill by Friday, November 20th. The goal is to have an omnibus bill completed and passed by December 11th.

It’s not too late to help! If your U.S. Senator or Representative is listed below, consider contacting his or her office this week. (You can find your Senator’s phone number here and your U.S. Representative’s phone number here.)

House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee
Representative Andrew P. Harris Maryland
Representative Barbara Lee California
Representative Chaka Fattah Pennsylvania
Representative Charles W. Dent Pennsylvania
Representative Chuck Fleischmann Tennessee
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard California
Representative Martha Roby Alabama
Representative Michael K. Simpson Idaho
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (Ranking Member) Connecticut
Representative Scott E. Rigell Virginia
Representative Steve Womack Arkansas
Representative Tom Cole (Chairman) Oklahoma

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee

Senator Bill Cassidy Louisiana
Senator Brian Schatz Hawaii
Senator Jack Reed Rhode Island
Senator James Lankford Oklahoma
Senator Jeanne Shaheen New Hampshire
Senator Jeffrey Merkley Oregon
Senator Jerry Moran Kansas
Senator Lamar Alexander Tennessee
Senator Lindsey O. Graham South Carolina
Senator Mark Steven Kirk Illinois
Senator Patty Murray (Ranking Member) Washington
Senator Richard C. Shelby Alabama
Senator Richard J. Durbin Illinois
Senator Roy Blunt (Chairman) Missouri
Senator Shelley Moore Capito West Virginia
Senator Tammy Baldwin Wisconsin

Appropriation Committee Chairs/Ranking Members

Senator Thad Cochran (Chair, Senate) Mississippi
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (Ranking Member, Senate Maryland
Representative Harold Rogers (Chair, House) Kentucky
Representative Nita M. Lowey (Ranking Member, House) New York

Coalition Wraps up AEFL Week Happenings


As NCL wraps up the celebration of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2015, posted below are the happenings that reached the Coalition inbox through the weekend. A sincere thank you to all who participated in raising awareness and spreading advocacy for adult education during the 7th annual AEFL week!


District of Columbia:

DC street newspaper Street Sense featured So Others Might Eat’s Center for Employment Training (SOME CET) in Anacostia which aids people to “build the skills needed to obtain better-paying jobs to provide for themselves and their families.” For AEFL Week an Adult Education Panel discussion took place at Busboy and Poets store in Brookland on September 21. The feature author concluded, “Knowledge inequality is just as bedeviling a problem in Washington as income inequality. More public awareness and involvement can help more District residents improve their lives.”


Cumberland County Adult Education participated in the KAACE celebration of AEFL Week by “raising awareness of the under-educated and food insecure people” during September Hunger Prevention Month.


Coffee lovers drank to adult literacy at the first-ever Water Street Literacy Connection Benefit on September 26. Water Street Coffee hosted the “benefit featuring Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Janice Brown of The Kalamazoo Promise. Patrons could round up their purchases by $1 or more, and pledged” to “Team Bobby” or “Team Janice” in a friendly competition. All proceeds benefited adult literacy.

“We are supporting the Kalamazoo Literacy Council because it demonstrates the best qualities at work in our community: collaboration, dedicated volunteers, and a commitment to provide quality adult instruction and resources,” Hopewell and Brown stated jointly. “Through these efforts we are opening the doors for hundreds of adult learners who want to improve their skills.”

North Carolina:

On Friday, Burke County Literacy Council launched Adult Literacy Day of Giving — an effort to raise awareness about adult literacy and involve others as advocate, volunteer, or supporter.

“This is the launch for the giving portion of the campaign,” the council’s office manager Ariel Benfield said, and beyond funding, “we are trying to get more volunteer support as well. We are looking for volunteers for one-on-one tutoring, office and clerical help, childcare help and fundraising help.”