Educational Institutions

First Literacy, Inc.

  • Boston, MA
  • firstliteracy.org

Mission Statement

At First Literacy, we believe that literacy, functional English skills, and high school credentials are essential in our society. Our mission is to ensure that all adults who live in Greater Boston have educational opportunities that enable them to thrive in their personal and family lives, in the workplace, and in the community. We accomplish this mission by providing:Grants for adult education classes and services; Grants for the development of innovative practices and resources;Professional and leadership development workshops for teachers and other adult education professionals; andScholarships and mentoring for adults starting college.

Main Programs

  1. First Literacy Program Grants
  2. First Literacy Scholarships
  3. First Literacy Professional Development Workshops
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

We work to increase educational equity for adults in Greater Boston. Our partner-programs are located in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Somerville, South Boston, South End, and Watertown.

ruling year

1988

Principal Officer since 2010

Self-reported

Ms. Skye Morrison Kramer

Keywords

Self-reported

adult basic education, literacy, ESOL, community development, mentoring

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EIN

04-2997446

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

FY 2014 was the first year of our 2013-2015 grant cycle. We supported 19 programs with grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 and totaling $225,000. The projects involve 1,254 learners and include ABE classes such as Basic Literacy and ESOL, as well as classes that provide students with educational foundations in health and wellness, learning strategies, and presentation skills. Our grants also included support for educational, career, and personal counseling, and child care. Public funding is unavailable for such services; however, without them many adult learners would not be able to attend classes. For the third year, we hosted Professional Development Workshops. This year 14 workshops were presented on topics including: Approaches to Managing and Improving Your Students' Attendance;From Objectives to Assessment: Breathing Life into Your Lesson Planning; and Keeping Your Students Connected and Engaged in the Summer.Many of the workshops included two sessions, giving participants the chance to test techniques and ideas learned during the first session and then report on the results during the second session. Adult educators from 80 programs participated in 2014.The first year of the First Literacy Lab was successful. The goals of the project include: Promoting and supporting the use of evidence-based ABE instruction and the development of innovative instructional materials and practices; Increasing ABE student learning through the use of evidence-based and newly-developed materials and practices; andSupporting the use of technology in ABE instruction. The Call for Proposals was released in November and 20 programs responded. We invited 18 of these to come in for an interview. Of these, eight were awarded grants of between $1,200 and $2,500. Goals for FY 2015 include continuing to support the 19 programs with funds and capacity-building, increasing the number of professional development workshops to 16, and funding another round of First Literacy Lab grants.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

First Literacy Program Grants

Capacity-building grants are awarded to outstanding ABE programs on a two-year cycle. In June 2013, following a competitive application process, we awarded grants for projects to 19 programs in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 and totaling $225,000. The projects involve 1,200 learners and include core ABE classes such as Basic Literacy and ESOL, as well as classes that provide students with educational foundations in health and wellness, learning strategies, and oral presentation skills. We also support the use of adult peers as mentors and educators, working as teachers' aides, tutors, and teachers. Because we understand the challenges that programs face in providing services, our grants also include crucial support for services such as educational, career, and personal counseling, and child care. Public funding is often unavailable for such services; however, without them many adult learners would not be able to participate in or complete classes.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Other Named Groups

Budget

$150,000.00

Program 2

First Literacy Scholarships

First Literacy is the only organization in Greater Boston that awards scholarships to adults who have completed basic education or English language programs and are continuing on to higher education. The students receive First Literacy scholarships in recognition of their educational achievements and potential, community service, and perseverance in the face of hardships. Living on low wages with few documented skills, these adults face problems of job insecurity, poor health care, and housing and transportation problems. What resonates from all First Literacy Scholars is their resolution to improve their lives through education. In order to increase the students' chances of success in school, First Literacy pairs each with a mentor who is a former scholarship recipient. Mentors support students' efforts to succeed in college, to do well in their classes, and to reach their goals.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Adults

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Budget

$40,000.00

Program 3

First Literacy Professional Development Workshops

First Literacy's professional development workshops are designed to give the programs and program staff the knowledge, skills and resources needed to improve, revise, and expand the classes and services they offer to adult learners. The goals for the workshops are: To contribute to the ongoing professional development of ABE program staff in Greater Boston;To support ongoing development of ABE programs in Greater Boston;To promote the use of best, evidence-based practices among ABE program staff and programs; To draw upon the expertise of experienced ABE staff and help develop new leaders in the field; andTo promote networking of ABE professionals in Greater Boston.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Other Named Groups

Budget

$50,000.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    In the coming year, we shall continue to support our partner-programs with grant funding and program development assistance. We shall increase the number of professional development workshops to eight. We hope to implement a mentoring program for our continuing scholars which will connect them with professionals in their fields of study. The mentoring program which pairs first year scholars with a former scholarship recipient will continue.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    First Literacy has a multi-pronged approach to supporting adults who need to improve their literacy skills.

    Program grants are awarded to outstanding ABE programs on a two-year cycle. In June 2011, following a competitive application process, we awarded grants for projects to 19 programs in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 and totaling $239,000. The projects involve 1,500 learners and include core ABE classes such as Basic Literacy and ESOL, as well as classes that provide students with educational foundations in health and wellness, learning strategies, and oral presentation skills. We also support the use of adult peers as mentors and educators, working as teachers’ aides, tutors, and teachers.

    Because we understand the challenges that programs face in providing services, our grants also include crucial support for services such as educational, career, and personal counseling, and child care. Public funding is often unavailable for such services; however, without them many adult learners would not be able to participate in or complete classes.First Literacy’s program development assistance includes site visits and professional development workshops. During the site visits, First Literacy’s Director of Programs observes classes, and meets with administrators, teachers, and learners. By taking this approach, we are able to get a complete view of programs’ projects and overall operations, from different points of view. Whether it is feedback on a class observed, the suggestion of teaching approaches, or advice on program evaluation and planning for program directors, we provide regular support to programs so they may continuously improve upon the quality of their classes and services.

    In order to address a need expressed by our partner-programs, we created a series of workshops, the goals of which include contributing to the professional development of ABE program staff; promoting the use of evidenced-based and best practices among ABE program staff; and promoting networking of ABE professionals.

    First Literacy is the only organization in Greater Boston that awards scholarships to adults who have completed basic education or English language programs and are continuing on to higher education. The students receive First Literacy scholarships in recognition of their educational achievements, community service, and perseverance in the face of hardships. Living on low wages with few documented skills, these adults face problems of job insecurity, poor health care, and housing and transportation problems. What resonates from all First Literacy Scholars is their resolution to improve their lives through education.In order to increase the students’ chances of success in school, First Literacy pairs each with a mentor who is a former scholarship recipient. Mentors support students’ efforts to succeed in college, to do well in their classes, and to reach their goals.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Not available.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Not available.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Not available.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

We work to increase educational equity for adults in Greater Boston. Our partner-programs are located in Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Somerville, South Boston, South End, and Watertown.

Funding Needs

First Literacy supports community-based ABE programs because they are the most effective way to meet the educational and self-development needs of adults in Greater Boston. Adults who seek more basic education have already taken a tremendous step in their process of transformation and First Literacy is here to assist them along the path. Raising funds to support adults as they seek the education they need to improve their lives is a challenge in an area where K-12 education is a priority for many funders. We seek unrestricted funding for our grant-making and program development assistance activities. We need new support for emerging community-based literacy programs. These programs spring from the communities of the adult learners they serve and are committed to helping their neighbors get the skills they need to succeed.Our Scholars deserve multiple years of support, and with additional funding we could provide two or more years of financial help to more of our scholars. Funding for our mentoring program would allow us to expand it to include mentors for continuing scholars.

Accreditations

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

FIRST LITERACY INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

First Literacy, Inc.

Leadership

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2014
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Ms. Skye Morrison Kramer

BIO

Skye Morrison Kramer became Chief Executive Officer of First Literacy in July 2010. As CEO, she is responsible for overall management and operations of First Literacy. Prior to assuming the position, Ms. Kramer was Executive Director of the Brookline Education Foundation for 13 years. The Brookline Education Foundation (BEF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Brookline's commitment to excellence in public education. She holds a BA from Loyola University, New Orleans; participated in the NCCJ's LeadBoston leadership development program; and has held a variety of nonprofit leadership positions in Greater Boston.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

" First Literacy believes that acquiring literacy is the first step that adults must take to improve their lives, provide for their families, and have a positive impact on their communities. All of our work is focused on ensuring that adults who want to improve their literacy levels are able to do so without barriers. The decision to seek further education is quite a personal one for those adults who need to improve their literacy skills. Adult learners know that without high school credentials or functional English language skills, their prospects of economic success are limited. In fact, in many cases a GED or high school diploma is inadequate for the employment opportunities that would provide a living wage. These motivated adults want more education because they need jobs that offer the possibility of advancement. Basic education is often their first step towards economic improvement for themselves, their families, and even their communities.The general public has a fundamental misunderstanding of adult basic education. It is about basic skills, not recreational enrichment. ABE students contribute to the economy as taxpayers and have the potential to contribute more as their literacy skills and earnings increase. Adult basic education is at the cornerstone of the success of education reform, civic engagement and health care, and other pressing public policy priorities. None of us can afford to live with vast numbers of our neighbors un- or under-educated. In connection with our recently completed strategic review, we reached out to leaders in adult education, including government officials, program directors, and adult educators. We frequently heard that: Projects funded by First Literacy allow programs to support their learners through traditional and innovative class models, volunteer recruiting and training, educational and career counseling, and childcare services.First Literacy professional development workshops are valued by program teachers and other staff who not only attend workshops but also return to their organizations and share approaches, practices, and materials with their colleagues. Our hands-on technical assistance helps build program capacity.Our college scholarships offer both financial and emotional support to adult learners in Greater Boston. "

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Jeffrey P. Beale

Eaton Vance Investment Managers

Term: June 2005 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?