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COABE, 100+ Partners Kick Off National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week With Call to Double Adult Ed Funding

September 20, 2021 GMT

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) during National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is highlighting successes as it calls on federal lawmakers to double funding for adult learners over the next five years and on state leaders to dedicate federal recovery funds to adult education to aid their state’s economic recovery.

Adult education is helping to create an inclusive recovery: 74 percent of adult education students in the U.S. are people of color, many in search of reading, math and technical skills that will put them on the path to a better-paying job. Adult education also offers training in foundational digital skills, which are increasingly required in today’s workplace but lacking in nearly 1 in 3 workers in the U.S., according to the National Skills Coalition.


National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week began Sunday and runs through Saturday, Sept. 25. The week includes a variety of activities designed to raise the visibility of work being done in the adult education field and to celebrate the successes.

Specifically, COABE is urging federal lawmakers to increase adult education funding by $135 million for fiscal year 2022 and to continue to increase funding by that amount for each of the following four years until it is double the fiscal year 2021 amount of $674.9 million. COABE also is calling on state lawmakers to allocate federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and American Rescue Plan funding to adult education programs.

“Before the pandemic, millions of people were on waiting lists for adult education services, and we expect that number will increase as people seek to upskill and reskill to recover from the impact the pandemic has had on them and their families,” said Sharon Bonney, CEO of COABE, which represents the field of 65,000 adult educators nationally. “Additional funding is needed to reach more adult learners in need of reading, writing, math and career skills that give them a chance at upward mobility and to help adult education programs that are struggling because of the impacts of COVID-19.”


Adult education programs have been challenged by the move to a virtual setting; training educators to deliver online instruction; enrollment issues and finding additional space and personal protective equipment needed for safe social distancing for the return to in-person learning.

Adult education provides a pathway to equip adults with the knowledge and skills they need to train for the jobs of the future, and the need is significant: pre-pandemic, 43 million working-age Americans lacked the skills needed for many of the nation’s fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs. There are 51.4 million adults with low literacy skills and 75.1 million adults with low numeracy skills.

COABE estimates the return on investment for adult education, which includes preparing adults to earn their High School Equivalency diploma, is $2.5 billion in tax revenue and reduced expenses for every 400,000 adults who earn a high school diploma – a savings of $6,250 per person.

The week’s activities include Virtual Hill Meetings with governors and members of Congress, led by state adult education associations; a Twitter “storm;” and daily awards ceremonies to honor elected officials at the local, state and national levels who have shown leadership in the area of adult education. View the full schedule of events and elected officials to be honored.

Among the more than 100 partners joining the effort are the Barbara Bush Foundation, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Google, IBM, National Governors Association, National Skills Coalition, National Immigration Forum, National Association for Workforce Professional Development, Tyson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and The United States Conference of Mayors. View the list of corporate partners.

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) is a non-profit organization that champions increased access and investment in adult education, leading to higher-quality instruction and greater student outcomes. We employ innovative and effective strategies to reach more adults who struggle with literacy, numeracy and problem-solving. COABE represents the field of nearly 65,000 adult educators in more than 2,000 local programs serving more than 1.5 million adult learners annually. COABE provides a variety of services, including professional development through annual, state-of-the-art national conferences; more than 50 webinars annually; targeted symposiums; Capitol Hill Day visits; award-winning public awareness campaigns and publication of the COABE Journal.

Contact: Sharon Bonney, CEO COABE
Phone: 888-442-6223

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SOURCE Coalition on Adult Basic Education