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The Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance Discusses Public Policy & Advocacy at Quarterly Meeting

6 August 2014

Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance (Alliance) members convened on Tuesday August 5, 2014, at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Over 60 adult literacy practitioners and administrators attended to discuss the role of public policy and advocacy in adult education.

Brendan Conlin, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Alliance, opened by introducing new and existing members of the board, thanked past board members and provided an overview of Alliance accomplishments and plans for the upcoming programmatic year.

Next, Dr. Judith Rényi, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy (The Commission) gave an overview of the national, state, and local policy landscape. Last month, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA). This Act reauthorizes the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) with several major revisions.  Most importantly, federal funding can be allocated to teaching learners deemed “hardest to serve.” This includes low-literate adults, ex-offenders, those with intellectual and mental disabilities, etc. Dr. Rényi stressed the importance of the Alliance forming a unified voice on behalf of the entire Philadelphia adult education community so it can have an impact in Harrisburg and beyond. (Read the full report here.)

Sallie Glickman, member of The Commission and Chair of its Advocacy and Policy Committee, outlined the importance of advocacy in adult literacy. Sallie provided several examples of public policies that have had major impact on American society, and other legislation that has had negative effects on the provision of education across the nation.

Alliance members discussed the importance of WIOA and its relevance to instructors and administrators of adult literacy programs. Attendees explored how public policies impact adult education providers, and discussed ways the Alliance will collectively advocate for state and local regulations that can better serve the needs of adult learners. Participants were asked to (1) identify policies and regulations that influence the day-to-day reality as instructors and administrators of adult education programs; and (2) brainstorm actions that can be taken to improve ability of adult literacy programs to provide enhanced services to learners.

Mr. Conlin wrapped the meeting by facilitating a large group discussion that synthesized the main points that emerged from the group discussions. Lunch was served at the end of the meeting providing members with an opportunity to network. Members were invited to share information about events, resources and trainings.

Special thanks to all who attended this meeting. If you are not a member, wish to be, or want more information on the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance click here or contact Naomie Nyanungo at

Those interested in continuing this discussion are invited to the next monthly Literacy Salon, slated for September 19, 2014 at 9:30 am at The Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. Register here.

The next quarterly meeting of the Alliance will take place on December 2, 2014. (Registration details coming soon.)

View quarterly meeting notes.

About the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance

The Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance brings together over 200 active members from the adult education community who provide, coordinate, fund, and support adult literacy and workforce development services.

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