Sustaining Adult Literacy Programs During Covid-19
Posted by on April 06, 2020 in categoryCEO DeskcategoryMember Tips

With over 40 million low literate adults in the United States, adult literacy programs provide a critical service to millions of students through adult basic education, English language learning, high school equivalency test preparation, and workforce training. Research has shown that students who spend a minimum of 100 hours in adult basic education programs significantly increase their income over time.* It’s imperative that adult literacy programs sustain themselves through COVID-19 and play a role in the recovery after the pandemic ends. Adult literacy programs can employ the following funding resources now to sustain themselves during COVID-19 and beyond:

  1. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – This $2.2 trillion-dollar bill was signed into law to deliver relief to families, businesses, and nonprofits. Part of this bill provides emergency support to small to mid-sized nonprofits (500 employees or fewer) through a loan program with the Small Business Administration (SBA). The CARES Act includes an important provision: under this new program, loans are forgivable if the nonprofit or for-profit keeps staff on the payroll between March 1 and June 30. This, in essence, turns the loan into a general operating support grant. Forgivable loans of this type can be taken out for as much as $10 million and can be used to meet payroll and associated costs (including health insurance premiums), facilities costs, and debt service. The SBA is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). This program provides loans of up to $2 million at an interest rate of 2.75 percent for nonprofits. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Adult Literacy Programs are advised to apply for these as soon as possible. To apply, contact your local bank or go directly online to the SBA at
  2. CARES Act Charitable Donations – Make sure to communicate with your donors about these important tax changes. For the entire year of 2020, the limitation on how much of your charitable donations you can deduct against your income has been lifted. Previously it was a maximum of 60% for cash donations and 50% for non-cash contributions. These limitations have been removed in the CARES Act for federal income tax purposes. In addition, anyone who donates up to $300, whether they itemize or not, can deduct that against other income for donations in 2020.
  3. Community Foundations Grants – Nearly 250 community foundations across the country have committed over $350M in COVID-19 relief funds to help local nonprofit programs. Click here to view a state-by-state listing of participating community foundations.
  4. ProLiteracy Mobile Learning Fund – The Mobile Learning Fund is a grant program that provides adult literacy programs and their students with digital education materials. Click here to find out more.


Kevin Morgan

President and CEO


*See The Case for Investment in Adult Basic Education,” March 2017, ProLiteracy.

COVID-19 Resources


Related Posts

Share Your Story

Subscribe to our Blog

Never miss a blog post! Sign up to receive our monthly email blog newsletter.

Sign Up

See the Latest Research

Research - White Paper

Research proves the correlation between obtaining literacy skills and the return on investment related to improving an adult’s life and future.

Learn More