New York City is currently home to 2.2 million adults who lack English proficiency or a high school diploma. To help adults and children access literacy services to succeed at school and work, UNH advocates for adult and family literacy programs to promote educational success.

It is critical that New Yorkers have the opportunity to gain the language skills necessary to understand their rights, navigate legal and other social service systems, and access additional education and workforce opportunities.

When adults and children can access literacy services, the benefits are clear. Increased English proficiency means parents can help their children succeed in school, communicate better with people like emergency workers and school teachers, and take a more active role in their communities.

To promote literacy, UNH advocates for:

Adult Basic Education (ABE)

ABE is for people who have less than a 9th-grade education. Most of our members hold classes that can build basic literacy and numeracy skills.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

ESOL classes help Immigrants to New York who do not have a functional command of English. They can take classes to build their reading and writing skills.

High School Equivalency (HSE)

HSE programs serve students who never finished high school and learners who “graduate” from ABE or ESOL classes. These programs can be the bridge to a new world of success.

Basic Education in Native Language (BENL)

BENL is for adult learners who lack proficiency in their own native language. BENL classes that can help accelerate simultaneous gains in English learning.

Family literacy

Family literacy programs focus on the whole family at once, incorporating early childhood education, afterschool programs, parent/child programs, and more.

Current Policy Agenda

State Level

Adult literacy

UNH is advocating for the State to fund Adult Literacy Education (ALE) at $15.3 million. This important program supports English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and High School Equivalency (HSE) Preparation classes through the New York State Education Department. This funding would allow our members service an additional 7,500 immigrants and adult learners.

Family literacy

UNH is seeking to fund a $10M family literacy initiative to promote whole-family educational success across New York State.

City Level

Adult literacy

UNH is advocating for the City to to baseline $12M in funding for community-based adult literacy programs and establish a city-wide task force to develop recommendations that would strengthen and coordinate services.

Family literacy

No existing city, state or federal funding stream addresses the full spectrum of whole-family literacy. UNH is seeking to fund a comprehensive $5M family literacy initiative.

Policy & Advocacy Work

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