AEFL Week raises public awareness about the need for and value of adult education and family literacy. Its goal is to increase financial and societal support for access to basic education programs for U.S. adults with low literacy, numeracy, and digital skills. Advocates across the country use this opportunity to elevate adult education and family literacy nationwide with policymakers, the media, and the community.
What are some ways to participate this week?
Start with toolkits and other resources for planning advocacy around AEFL week
Host an online event to raise awareness of adult education and family literacy
What about next week, next month, next spring?
AEFL Week is also a great opportunity to plan out your advocacy strategy for the next 6 months or more.
Who are your federal and state legislators? What are their positions on adult education, family literacy, digital equity? Plan out a schedule for when you will contact them over the next few months and what you will say.
What information about literacy and numeracy levels in your specific community or locale can you obtain from the PIAAC Skills Map? How can you use that information to explain the importance of adult education?
What information about digital access in your community can you obtain from the National Broadband Map? How can you use that information to support your points about digital literacy and digital inclusion?
What are some of the strengths and successes of your program and your adult learners? How can you use those to illustrate the value (and return on investment) of adult education?
This AEFL Week, take the opportunity to become a more informed, more creative, and more persistent advocate. And let us know how we can help!
National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week was established when the National Coalition for Literacy worked with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-PA) and then-Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) to create a Congressionally-recognized designation that would draw attention to the importance of adult education and family literacy. Since then, NCL has sponsored AEFL Week in September each year on behalf of its members and the field as a whole, and has worked with Members of Congress to have the week recognized through resolutions in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
On June 4, National Skills Coalition, the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL), and the Coalition for Adult Basic Education (COABE) collaborated to provide a virtual forum on the challenges that the pandemic environment and related policy decisions are creating for adult learners. The forum focused on adult educators’ ideas and concerns and introduced ways they could connect with policy makers and others to advocate for their learners and their programs.
Presenters were Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Jessica Cardott, and Katie Spiker from NSC; Sharon Bonney from COABE; and Deborah Kennedy from NCL. Read a summary of the forum content on NSC’s blog, or listen to the entire forum on NSC’s Youtube channel here. The forum is part of NSC’s #SkillstoRecover series.
Today Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Angus King (I-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Gary Peters (D-MI) have introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019.
The NCL is proud to endorse this legislation, which was developed by Senator Murray’s office with input and support from the NCL and numerous other organizations working for equal access for all. It defines “digital equity” and “digital inclusion” for the first time in statute, with a focus on enabling full participation in society and the economy. It specifically references underserved and overlooked populations, particularly adults who seek to develop their literacy, numeracy, and digital skills but lack access for geographic, economic, and other reasons.
The Act establishes two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:
Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.
The Act also promotes research and evidence-based policymaking. It tasks NTIA with evaluating digital equity projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.
The Digital Equity Act of 2019 has the potential to help millions of Americans gain the digital tools they need to thrive. Feel free to share this post with your networks. Graphics for Facebook, Instagram (including stories), and Twitter, along with GIFs and a short video, can be found here. Learn more from Senator Murray’s new Medium Post “Why We Need the Digital Equity Act” here.
Call your U.S. Senators today and tell them it’s time for #DigitalEquityNow! It’s time to close the digital divide and focus on making sure communities with broadband access have the skills and knowledge to take full advantage of all the internet has to offer.