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Investing in Boston's Adult Learners: Adult Literacy Initiative

In the City of Boston, education plays a crucial role in shaping residents' lives. The Adult Literacy Initiative (ALI), led by the Worker Empowerment Cabinet in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) unit, is dedicated to empowering adult learners. ALI, comprising 29 adult education providers, serves approximately 3,500 diverse students annually. Programs include literacy, job skills training, high school equivalency, and ESOL classes for adult learners. Working closely with ACLS, the Office of Workforce Development (OWD) and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) ensure funding for these programs. Their efforts led to a fiscal year 2024 allocation of $10.6 million, reflecting the State and City’s commitment to investing in inclusive education.

Beyond education, ALI collaborates with the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet on the Literacy Task Force, a 15-member group launched in June 2023. This group, including ALI members and adult learners, will study literacy rates of Boston residents, craft action plans, and advocate for enhanced access to education and services. Additionally, OWD is one of the five recipients nationwide recently awarded an ALL IN Research Small Grant totally $10,000. OWD will be conducting research in collaboration with adult education and workforce training partners through Spring 2024 to explore models and strategies that promote Adult Basic Education (ABE) student transitions to post-secondary credential programs.

Boston's Adult Literacy Initiative is emblematic of the City's commitment to providing every resident with access to education and a chance to unlock their full potential. For more information on ALI or to find an adult education program, visit

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