From the Desk of the CEO


Basic Literacy & Numeracy

From the Desk of the CEO: The Next Steps for Adult Literacy

February 2, 2023

Periodically throughout the year, ProLiteracy President and CEO Mark Vineis will use space on the blog to share his thoughts on the current landscape of adult literacy and education and news about ProLiteracy. 

We’re one month into 2023, and I couldn’t be more excited to take a moment to write my first blog as president and CEO of ProLiteracy.

Over the past year I’ve seen many positive signs that the adult literacy field is on the cusp of something great. Something that will shift the trajectory for low-literate adults, communities, and the country as a whole. That something is equity through improved literacy. And we’re going to do it collectively as a field as part of The Adult Literacy and Learning Impact Network (ALL IN).

ALL IN is a new collective action initiative that has brought together national thought leaders from the adult literacy field, including ProLiteracy, which I’m proud to represent. The purpose of the initiative is to enact the five-year National Action Plan for Adult Literacy to ensure every adult who wants help has unrestricted access to high-quality and effective learning opportunities, regardless of where they live or what their economic status is.

The adult literacy problem in America, as documented in a recent series by ProPublica, is big and has been ignored and underfunded for too long. Millions are invested every year by philanthropists and the private sector to find solutions to social issues like climate change, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and maternal mortality rates. But the solution that would begin to solve each of these social issues is raising the literacy levels of the 54% of adults that struggle with low literacy skills, reading and writing below a sixth-grade level.

Literacy truly transforms lives. We’ve seen it. We have proof that increasing an individual’s reading, writing, numeracy, and digital literacy skills has a ripple effect in the form of better job opportunities, and increased earnings, secure housing, healthier lifestyles and reduced morbidity, and breaking the generational cycle of poverty. Improving skills can give everyone a fighting chance. And isn’t that what we all deserve? The answer is yes.

Yet, with limited awareness and funding, current approaches are not working. We cannot wait any longer. As my colleague British Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation, has said, we need to start connecting the dots. As one, ALL IN believes we can do that.

Individually, each organization that has joined ALL IN does amazing things to serve adult and family literacy, and we’ll all keep doing that. But together, our voices are stronger. Together, we can have a greater impact. Together, we can get the attention of other sectors and bring them to the table. Big things are coming for adult literacy.

At ProLiteracy, we’ll continue to serve our member programs and the field by providing the highest quality professional development and innovative digital and print learning tools. Supporting educators and learners is our singular effort as an organization. We’re also ALL IN alongside our peers to bring the national conversation to and build support and resources for adult literacy.

But we are only as strong as our foundation, which is all of YOU. So, I hope you will join the ALL IN collective for our first community update later this month. Learn more about the initiative and what we’ve been working on at 2 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, February 21. You can register at this link:  

Thank you for all you do!