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Funding Remains an Issue for Adult Literacy and Basic Education Programs

A new survey of ProLiteracy adult literacy and basic education member organizations finds the overall funding for these programs has shrunk by almost $16 million in the last two years.

Additionally, ProLiteracy programs show a five-year trend of receiving less federal and state funding. In 2007-08, 49 percent of programs received federal and/or state funding; that figure has fallen to 38 percent in 2011-12. Five years ago, state funding made up 25 percent of a program’s overall budget. Now, that same source of funding accounts for only 18 percent of a program’s overall budget.

ProLiteracy’s Annual Member Statistical Report (PDF) also shows that, in our member programs:

  • The percentage of enrolled students who read below a third-grade level—barely able to understand compound words or identify nouns and verbs well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or even read a simple story to a child—has risen to 25 percent.
  • The majority of enrolled students are in their prime earning years, ranging in age from 25-59.
  • 67 percent of enrolled students have less than a high school education. This aligns with a  ecent Education Week survey, which found that 1.3 million American adults fail to complete high school every year.
  • 50 percent of new English language students are not literate in their native language, which underscores the need to include literacy as a pathway to citizenship in any immigration proposal.

One thousand of ProLiteracy’s member programs were surveyed through the 2011-12 Annual Member Report. Extrapolated data in the Statistical Report are based on 45 percent of Annual Member Reports submitted.

Questions about this report can be directed to Michele Diecuch, director of membership and field services, at (315) 214-2576. Media queries can be directed to Amy Schmitz, director of communications, at (315) 214-2580.


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