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Adult Education

Adult Education e-Source for Community Leaders

This e-Source is designed to help communities, organizations and adult education providers promote and support quality adult literacy programs in their communities. The e-Source is structured to address two major issues in adult literacy:  low-student enrollment and a lack of public awareness about adult literacy programs.


The resource focuses on strategies to support and partner with existing adult and family literacy programs.

Each section of the e-Source provides information, resources, and suggested practices to address pressing issues in adult education. The resources in this e-Source are designed to help organizations and individuals contribute to current adult literacy initiatives to create a broader impact.



In spring 2017 Literacy For All (LFA), a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, engaged Deloitte to determine the impact of adult low literacy on Georgia’s workforce and economy. The Deloitte study provided some alarming facts:1 in 6 adults in Georgia has low literacy skills -- that’s 1.7m adults.


  1. 65% of the state’s 3rd grade students are not reading at grade level.

  2. Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level.

  3. Low literacy costs Georgia $1.3b annually in incarceration costs, lost revenue and social services.

  4. Literacy is a multigenerational issue.

  5. Local implementation and collaboration are keys to marked improvement.


Based on the Deloitte findings, LFA partnered with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to initiate the Georgia Literacy Commission (GLC), a business-led group, and its Advisory Committee, comprised of education and literacy experts. They convened to study best practices relating to changing the trajectory of literacy in Georgia. The Commission released its first set of recommendations in November 2017, and they include initiatives that are actionable at the community level and have promise for statewide, systemic improvements.


To keep pace with current and future workforce needs, as a baseline, Georgia needs a literate and educated talent pool.  Possession of literacy skills is foundational to an individual’s continuing education, workforce training, and self-sustainment.  The Georgia Literacy Commission’s recommendations include initiatives that are targeted and focused on improving literacy from birth through adult years.  This Adult Education e-Source focuses on increasing awareness and engagement to improve literacy in the adult years. The ultimate goal of this e-Source is to prepare adults to be self-sustaining citizens.

General Questions

General Questions

What is adult literacy?


“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts in order to participate in society, achieve one’s goals and develop one’s knowledge and potential.” (OECD 2012) Literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology rich environments are the basic components of adult literacy.


Why is adult literacy important?


  1. For adults without a high school diploma

    • The unemployment rate is 5.4% points higher

    • The income level is $10,000 less per year

  2. The poverty rate for high school dropouts is more than twice as high as adults with a high school diploma (Source:  US census)

  3. Households headed by a high school graduate accumulate 10X more wealth on average than ones headed by a high school dropout (Source:  Gouskova & Stafford, 2005).

  4. Eighty-eight percent of jobs in Georgia require a high school diploma or post-secondary degree.  Over 820,000 Georgians will not qualify for these jobs due to lack of a high school diploma or GED.

  5. Children of parents with low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level (Source: ProLiteracy)


What are adult literacy programs?


Adult literacy programs include any programs designed to improve an adult student’s literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills. While many of these programs focus on basic reading and writing skills, many of them also include math. These programs are often supported by state and local governments as well as private foundations because of the overwhelmingly positive impact they have on communities.


What types of adult literacy programs are offered?


Adult Basic Education (ABE) is designed for adults at the elementary level of literacy (grades 0-8), with an emphasis on communicative, computational, and social skills.


Adult Secondary Education (ASE) is instruction designed for adult students who have not completed high school and/or are seeking a high school equivalency credential and/or have literacy skills that are at approximately a grade 9 level or higher (but below 12th grade level).


English Language Learning (ELL) is instruction for adults who lack proficiency in English and who seek to improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in English. ELL is also known as ESL (English as a Second Language) or ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)


GED classes prepare student for the general equivalency diploma (GED) test which is a four-subject high school equivalency test that measures skills required by high schools and requested by colleges and employers. The four subjects are ScienceSocial StudiesMathematical Reasoning, and Reasoning through Language Arts.


Workforce Readiness Programs are designed to prepare students for careers in specific professions.  Programs give students learning opportunities to develop academic, technical and professional knowledge and skills required for job acquisition, retention and advancement.


What is the goal of Adult Education?

To train adults to be

  1. Prepared for work and careers

  2. Proficient with technology

  3. Able to help their children with homework

  4. Able to support their family

  5. Capable of making good health decisions

  6. Able to manage one’s own finances


Who needs adult literacy classes?


Over one million adults in Georgia do not have a high school credential and even more have a diploma but have low literacy. This means that at least 13% of the state’s population qualifies for adult literacy services, most, if not all, of which are free. Adult literacy impacts rural, suburban, and urban areas in Georgia. Though the predominant demographic for adult education is white, male, non-Hispanic, low literacy spans all races, genders and ages (16+).


Who provides adult literacy classes?


Many types of organizations provide adult literacy classes. Technical colleges, K-12 schools, community-based organizations, worksites, libraries, prisons, faith-based groups, housing authorities and homeless shelters, and even some early childhood centers provide classes, support, and services to adult students.

The Adult Education Landscape

Adult Education Landscape

There are many types of providers for Adult Education.


Federal and State Funded Programs:

Georgia’s Office of Adult Education (GOAE) is a division of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG)—an entity that also includes Technical Education and Quick Start (the agency’s economic development arm).  The mission of the GOAE is “[t]o enable every adult learner in Georgia to acquire the necessary basic skills—reading, writing, computation, speaking, and listening—  to compete successfully in today’s workplace, strengthen family foundations, and exercise full citizenship.”


To meet this need in FY 2017, GOAE renewed federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants to 31 local providers for coverage in each of Georgia’s 159 counties.  Grantees included 22 technical colleges, 5 community-based organizations, 3 school systems, and one public housing authority.


During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the TCSG Adult Education Program served 41,945 students out of 1.1m in need.


Staff working in these TCSG programs include:

  1. 1,190 Instructional Staff:

  2. 207 full-time (17%)

  3. 983 part-time (83%)

  4. 1,775 CLCP volunteers with 40,163 hours of donated service

  5. 325 CLCP tutors providing 23,780 hours of volunteer tutoring

  6. 270 local program volunteers


Many other federal or state funded public entities provide adult education including but not limited to Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Schools, Cobb County School District and Northwest Georgia Housing Authority and Public Libraries.


Community Based Programs:


Literacy Action

This organization is the oldest, largest and leading adult education nonprofit in the southeastern United States.  Literacy Action’s mission is to build better futures for undereducated adults by teaching literacy, life and work skills that empower them to reach their highest potential.  Their focus is on the Atlanta metro area.  However, they have a distance learning system (Aztec) which provides the opportunity to serve the entire state, given some local partnership.  If you are interested in this distance learning system and/or partnership, please contact Elissa Russell at


Literacy Volunteers of Tifton

Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County is a 501(c)3 that provides basic to college-level tutoring to individuals 16 years and older. All services are free.

Literacy Volunteers’ mission is to improve the lives of participants by enhancing their educational and occupational abilities through increasing their skills in reading, writing, math, and language, and thereby to improve the standards of living in the community.

Besides tutoring sessions and GED classes, they also provide:

  • English as a second language classes

  • Tutor training for anyone who wants to volunteer with us

  • One on One tutoring

  • We collect and donate books to worthy causes

  • Other local events that promote literacy and education


Note:  Many community- based programs such as the YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs incorporate parents in some aspects of their programming.  This multigenerational approach provides additional adult education programming for parents.

Community Banks

Many community banks offer financial literacy programs for adults.


Faith-Based Offerings


Baptist Ministries

Literacy Missions is a ministry involving Georgia Baptist churches, associations and others through ministering to those with literacy needs.  Programs include adult reading, citizenship, English as a second language, English as a foreign language and tutoring children and youth.


Catholic Charities

Since 1953, Catholic Charities Atlanta has served over one million people with a holistic combination of accredited social services that remove barriers to self-sufficiency and wholeness.  Faith-based, but serve neighbors professionally, compassionately and regardless of faith or background.


Lutheran Settlement House Adult Education & Career Development Program

This Philadelphia-based program provides adults with literacy, basic education, GED preparation, computer class instruction, and career-readiness training and support to help learners achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.


Resettlement Agencies

Resettlement agencies have cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of State to provide reception and placement services to newly arrived refugees in the U.S. At present there are nine the U.S. non-profit agencies and one state agency that work as resettlement agency.  These agencies provide a variety of services, including some literacy programs, for the first four months in the U.S.


  1. Church World Service (CWS)

  2. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)

  3. Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)

  4. Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)

  5. International Rescue Committee (IRC)

  6. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)

  7. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS)

  8. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)

  9. World Relief (WR)


Cultural Identity Groups

Beyond the first four months in the U.S., other groups provide literacy and other programming for specific cultural groups.  A few examples of these organizations that provide literacy support in Georgia include:


New American Pathways

New American Pathways’ vision is to promote safety and stability, self-sufficiency, success, and service for individual refugees and refugee families in Georgia. They offer distinct program areas that focus on jobs, education, cultural integration, individual and female empowerment, building strong families and civic engagement. 


Latin American Association’s (LAA) mission is to empower Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive. Their vision is ” Opportunity for All.”


Asian American Resource Center

At Asian American Resource Center, they know that sometimes all it takes to impact lives is a little support. They’re here to lend a hand, offer assistance, and be a voice of reason for those who need it. Since the beginning of their non-profit organization in 1997, they’ve worked hard to take care of the neediest members of their community.


Center for Pan Asian Community Services

Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) is a private nonprofit located in Atlanta, Georgia.  Their mission is to promote self-sufficiency and equity for immigrants, refugees, and the underprivileged through comprehensive health and social services, capacity building and advocacy.


Friends of Refugees

This nonprofit organization empowers refugees through opportunities for well-being, education and employment.

How You Can Help

How You Can Help

Communicate the literacy crisis in Georgia and services available to combat it. Encourage additional adult education programming, increased awareness efforts and multigenerational approaches wherever possible.


Make sure businesses in your community know that they can receive up to $100,000 in tax credits for sponsoring GED courses for their employees. 


See these sites for tax credit information:

  1. Tax Credit Procedures Guide

  2. Tax Credit Form

  3. Tax Center website where you submit request

  4. Article that details the steps to get the tax credit

  5. Article from Valdosta Daily Times

Reaching Students through Multigenerational Approaches

Reaching Students: Multigen

Adults are motivated to improve literacy skills for their children’s sake.  Some of the most successful strategies for reaching and engaging adults in literacy programs include working with them either while their child is being taught (during summer and after school programs) or encouraging them to participate with their child in those same programs.  There are numerous creative examples of these types of programs.


  1. Communities In Schools, Milledgeville-Baldwin Co., has partnerships throughout the community including the Central Georgia Technical College, Georgia College & State University, Certified Literate Community Program, the school system, Georgia Family Connection Partnerships, libraries, Head Start, etc., to increase access to family literacy resources for both adults and children. The program has a Family Literacy Director who works with families to address their literacy needs and wrap-around services.  For more information contact Sandy Baxter or Mindee Adamson

  2. United Way of Central Georgia is working with WIC and their local housing authorities to support family literacy and early language development. They also hold parenting workshops and have a book partnership with Ferst Readers.

  3. Georgia Department of Corrections provides books to inmates to read with their visiting children.  Contact Melinda Dennis, GaDOC,

  4. Lee County Family Connection, in partnership with the Lee County School System, Lee County Chamber of Commerce, Lee County Library and Lee County Retired Educators, works collaboratively as Literate Lee - a Get Georgia Reading Campaign Team.  The current program is part of the Family Engagement Academy.  These organizations work with families who are part of the Backpack Blessings Program which provides weekend nutritional support to economically disadvantaged children K-5.  These organizations will host programs throughout the year. At each program, participants eat dinner together in a family setting.  After dinner, the programs vary.  The library has hosted a "Scavenger Hunt at the Library," "Acting Up," "Fall Festival Family Literacy Night," "Healthy Meal/Healthy Budget," "Paws Patrol Reading Night," "Math Mania," and "Family Talent Night."  In all of these programs, the entire family works together. This multigenerational approach allows families to build strong bonds with each other and with other families in the program.  Programs are open to all who live in the household - children, parents, grandparents, etc.  All programs focus on literacy, and the main goal for the first year was to build trust with the families, and so far programs have been very well attended.  For more information, please contact Patsy Shirley at

  5. Albany Family Literacy Connection takes a unique multi-generational approach to literacy. Each day finds parents working toward a GED and their pre-school children in the same facility.  The family is supported with Parents as Teachers home visits, as well as, monthly parent support meetings and Parent and Child Together Activities. Community partners share their expertise in daily parenting classes focusing on topics that will lead to family stability and self-sufficiency.  Families are connected to community resources to remove barriers that prevent program participation. For more information contact Cheryl Vinson or Sandy Bamford at, 229-638-2104.

Motivating Adult Learners

Motivating Adult Learners

Motivating adults to attend adult education courses is one of the biggest challenges.  Below are some suggested practices for motivating adults to attend:

  • Market programs to adult learners as a way to help their children read.  This has proven to be much more effective than marketing the benefits to the adults themselves as many adults feel it is a luxury to spend time on their own self-enrichment and/or do not identify themselves as needing literacy help.

  • Provide incentives to participate (e.g., awards for full attendance, grocery cards or other gift cards)

  • Go door to door in public housing and other lower income communities and talk with residents about the benefits of having a GED (e.g., higher pay, better job, ability to help children with homework and most importantly a path to self-sufficiency).  Keep in mind that building trust is critical to success.

  • For adults in public housing, consider waiving the eight-hour community service requirement for residents who are attending GED courses. Make transportation a non-issue by providing transportation to and from courses, providing GED courses online (with broadband/internet access) or providing classes at housing community or places of employment.  Faith-based organizations may be willing to provide transportation. In other communities Head Start busses have been used for adult transportation once the children have been dropped off and picked up at their program.

  • Offer childcare as this is a large obstacle for many parents.

  • Provide meals for families, children and/or adults as an attractor for programs.


Example Programs

Central Georgia Technical College’s (CGTC) Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) on its Macon campus provides a three-year-old preschool childcare program to children of students enrolled at CGTC. The newly renovated space provides opportunities for up to 20 children to grow, learn, and play in a Quality Rated program. Children must be three at the time of enrollment and can participate in the preschool program at any point in the year as long as they meet the age requirement. This opportunity is made possible through a Quality Rated Subsidy Grant (See Appendix A for more information).​

Quality Care for Children (QCC) provides low-income college student parents with child
care scholarships through its Boost: Making College Possible program. Boost is a two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of generational poverty: parents, confident their children are well cared for, can complete their postsecondary education, while infants and young children reap the lifelong benefits of high-quality early care and learning. QCC is implementing this program in partnership with four Georgia universities: Clayton State, Columbus State, Savannah State, and Georgia Southern - Savannah.

To motivate residents to participate in these programs, Northwest Georgia Housing Authority has developed the following incentives:

  1. Waive eight hours per month of HUD required community service for adults pursuing their GED.

  2. For residents who are pursuing a GED, their children can attend Northwest Georgia Housing Authority’s Montessori school free of charge.  Transportation is included with parents riding the bus to and from the Montessori school with their children and to and from the GED Program.  

  3. Residents who are unemployed and/or not attending school, able to work, must attend a “Life Skills” program aimed at helping residents work towards finding employment (policy was approved by NWGHA’s Board of Commissioners); residents who do not have a high school diploma or GED are referred to the GED Program.   


For more information, contact the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority.


Winder Housing Authority Family Self-Sufficiency Program

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program is a program established to promote economic self-sufficiency among Winder Housing Authority families.  The Head of Household who volunteers to participate is orientated, evaluated and is offered a Contract of Participation with the Winder Housing Authority.  This contract is designed to meet the family’s needs for services.  It also specifies the goals and objectives which the family must fulfill during the contract term.  The goals and objectives are based on mutual agreement.  Certain goals are mandatory.  The FSS program offers a financial incentive to families through the establishment of an escrow account which becomes available to the family upon successful completion of the Contract of Participation.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service’ Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP) provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.  USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. Each day, 3.3 million children receive nutritious meals and snacks through CACFP. The program also provides meals and snacks to 120,000 adults who receive care in nonresidential adult day care centers. CACFP reaches even further to provide meals to children residing in emergency shelters, and snacks and suppers to youths participating in eligible afterschool care programs.  

Resources for Enrollment

Resources for Enrollment

Adult Literacy classes are FREE.


Adult Literacy classes include:

  1. Reading & Writing  

  2. Math

  3. GED Test Preparation

  4. Citizenship Classes

  5. Job readiness Programs

  6. Digital Literacy 

  7. Health Literacy 

  8. Family Literacy 

Did you
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Finding FREE local classes is just a phone call away:


Office of Adult Education



Literacy Action



Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP)



GA Family Connection Partnership



United Way 2-1-1


National Literacy Directory



State Library System

Contact your local library






Text “MyGED” to 70700

How do I find classes?
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Provided by TCSG.

Every literacy system is different.


Most programs will have students take an assessment.  Students should not worry.  This just helps teachers place them in the correct class.

Students can go to their local adult literacy center. 

Programs will have attendance requirements.


Programs will be free. If students are interested in taking the GED, most programs have access to GED scholarships.


Many programs can connect students to resources and help with transportation or childcare issues.


Significant progress requires 100+ hours of attendance.

What to
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Informing Communities

Informing Communities
  • Start by reaching out to local adult literacy groups to learn more about local adult literacy needs. 

  • Gather local data from Certified Literate Community Program, Get Georgia Reading Campaign, Georgia Family Connection Partnership.

  • Customize presentations to reflect local adult literacy issues.

  • Visit local civic organizations and give presentations about local adult literacy issues and suggest ways the community can get involved.



  • Host events to inform community members about adult literacy programs in the community. Connect community members who have an interest in supporting adult literacy programs.



  • Create a community list-serv or mailing list to keep prospective volunteers informed.  Connect with the local Georgia Retired Educators Association. 

Build a


Resources for Informing Communities


Included in this e-Source are current examples of presentations given to inform communities about how adult literacy impacts the state. These presentations can be given to a variety of audiences.  The presentations are available online and most can be downloaded and edited/ customized.


How to Use: 

  • Contact local or state CLCP offices to learn more about local literacy issues.

  • Determine your community’s literacy status.  Go to (GOSA/GGR) website to learn third grade reading proficiency, 8th grade reading proficiency and high school graduation rate. 

  • Create or modify a presentation for the local context. 

  • Present at local meetings to raise awareness about adult education.

  • Work with your community to determine objectives and how you will measure success. 

Presentation Links

Additional presentation material can be found on the ProLiteracy Resource Page

Media Outreach e-Source

Guidelines for meeting with your local newspaper editorial board and pitching newspaper columnists to write about Adult Basic Education, guidelines for writing and submitting opinion (op-ed) pieces to your local newspaper or online news outlet, tips for pitching success stories, guidelines for drafting an effective press release, fact sheet templates.


Resources for Literacy Day

Resources for Literacy Day

September 8th is annually designated to be Literacy Day by the Governor of Georgia. This is a great opportunity to reach out to local government officials to have a local proclamation made for Literacy Day. In doing so, local officials and the community will be made aware of local and statewide literacy initiatives.

How to Use:​​

  • Reach out to the Certified Literate Community Program in August to be added to the distribution list for the Governor’s Proclamation.

  • Contact local officials to setup an appointment to discuss the proclamation to be made on Sept. 8 or at a local government meeting in early September. 

  • 2017 Adult Education and Family Literacy Week Proclamation

Letter-Writing Campaigns

Resources for Letter-Writing Campaigns

Letter writing campaigns are great ways for adult literacy students to advocate for the programs that are helping them. Letter-writing campaigns are often organized through local nonprofits, such as CLCPs. Students and teachers are asked to write letters thanking state legislatures and other government officials for their support of adult education and to encourage them to continue to support adult literacy.



Appendix A: Additional Resources for Adult Education 


For a list of all adult education programs supported by TCSG, click here.

For additional Adult Education resources, see the Literacy Action Resource Page.

For Goodwill workforce development programs, look up your local Goodwill and/or find training programs here

For Atlanta Regional Commission workforce development programs click here.

For workforce development providers and services in 10 Atlanta metro counties, see MAX portal.

For information about the Quality Rated Subsidy Grant, click here.


Appendix B: Job Training Programs That Work (Atlanta CareerRise)

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