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About Funding | What's the Issue | What Do We Need to Do | Act Now

Funding for Adult and Family Literacy

budget graphic dollar signAbout Funding

Federal and state governments appropriate (provide) funds for all types of education programs. See how combined federal, state, and local funding for adult education and literacy programs (those programs funded wholly or in part by Title II of the Workforce Investment Act) stacks up against funding for other education programs.

funding per student bar graph
From: Sticht, T. (2006, September 26). State and Federal Funding for the AELS
Sticht, T. (2008, August 17). Fall From Literacy Summit Continues


Funding for adult literacy (federal, state, and local funds combined) is:

  • Less than one-twentieth of Higher education funding
  • Less than one-tenth of K-12 funding
  • Less than one-eighth of Head Start funding
  • Less than one-twelfth Early Head Start funding

Additionally, public funding provides education for all youth between the ages of 5 and 16. However, funding for adult literacy (local, state, and federal combined) serves only 3 million of the 93 million adults who could benefit from services, or three percent of the adults in need. Consider further that if a parent of a child in any public school system in the United States were told that there was a six month or one-year waiting list to get his or her child into the next grade—unthinkable! Yet waiting lists are now the norm for basic education, secondary education, and English language learning for adults:

What’s the Issue

Adult education and literacy programs urgently need additional funding to meet increasing demands for services and to eliminate waiting lists. Increased funding for adult education and literacy would:

  • Improve our economy
  • Help today’s workers upgrade their educational skills so they can get jobs or benefit from retraining
  • Help immigrants improve their English proficiency and become a more integral part of American life
  • Improve our nation’s health
  • Reduce crime and poverty
  • Increase civic participation
  • Help parents be their child’s first, most important teacher

Without more funding, adult education and literacy programs cannot meet the need and demand for services.

What Do We Need to Do?

We need to raise awareness of adult education issues nationwide, increase access to adult education services, reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act now, and make adult education and family literacy an integral part of the solution in addressing national priorities.

How Can You Help?
See what quick actions you can take now to support adult education:

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