Manager Mondays

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In response to requests from the field, COABE is holding a series of leadership training webinars (5 one-hour training events) for local program administrators on a variety of high-need topics. These Manager Mondays will feature state and local practitioners who are tackling the same issues you face each day. Additionally, each webinar will include OCTAE recommended resources. Register today!

Special thanks to Essential Education, the generous sponsor of this special training series.

Additional $25 Million for Adult Education


House and Senate conferees completed negotiations on the Labor HHS appropriations bill today. The final appropriation amount for Adult Education is $641M for FY19, which represents a $25M increase over FY 18! This amount is in addition to the $35M that our field worked so hard for last year. 

The next step is a floor vote in the Senate next week, followed by a vote on the House floor the last week of September. The Labor-HHS bill is attached to the Defense Appropriations bill, which is a high priority in Congress to be enacted before the fiscal year ends on September 30th and the package will also include a Continuing Resolution to keep the remaining parts of the government open through December 7th. Hill insiders believe that the combined Labor-HHS/Defense bill will easily pass through the Senate and should also be approved in the House.

This Legislative Update is brought to you in part by generous support provided by:

2018 COABE Virtual Conference


COABE will hold a fall virtual conference on Thursday, October 25, 2018, and Friday, October 26, 2018. This will include 8 hour-long sessions each day, plus presenter chats and Q & A., and opportunities for networking. 

This conference will showcase our top national presenters and is provided by a partnership with McGraw-Hill Education.


Includes full access on October 25 and 26 to all sessions, presenter interviews, networking, and more!  Additionally you will have access to these presentations for up to 6 months after the event.

  • $50 Member - Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018
  • $95 Non-Member - Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018

Includes full access for several staff members on a site or facility on October 25 and 26 to all sessions, presenter interviews, networking, and more! Additionally you will have access to these presentations for up to 6 months after the event.

  • $250 Member Site License - Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018
  • $300 Non-Member Site License - Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018
  • $500 State Association License - Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26, 2018


Includes full access on October 25 or 26 to all sessions, presenter interviews, networking, and more! Additionally you will have access to these presentations for up to 6 months after the event.

  • $25 Member - Thursday, October 25 or Friday, October 26, 2018
  • $50 Non-Member - Thursday, October 25 or Friday, October 26, 2018

Registration must be paid in full by October 20, 2018, by check, purchase order, or credit card to ensure access to the virtual conference. No refunds after October 20, 2018.  Please contact if you have any questions. 

Our Latest Strand Partner: Wisconsin Health Literacy & Wisconsin Literacy

As a national leader in the field of health literacy, Wisconsin Health Literacy (WHL) has spent much of the last decade raising awareness of this silent crisis in health care. WHL hosts biennial health literacy summits, which have gained national exposure for their cutting edge knowledge sharing. WHL experts have made over 175 health literacy presentations and initiated numerous health literacy projects that are improving health outcomes.

Wisconsin Literacy, Inc., (WLI) serves Wisconsin’s communities by serving its member agencies. Through its four Regional Literacy Consultants (RLCs) located in Eau Claire, Madison, Racine, and Milwaukee, member agencies receive services that support their individual and varied needs. This support includes onsite visits that provide help with professional development, board development, tutor training, accountability, grant writing and any other area that an agency may identify.

COABE Journal: The Resource for Adult Education

Have you downloaded the "go to" resource that more than 11,000 COABE members have accessed? This is the all new and improved research to practice adult ed journal that is available online to you free of charge. Get your copy today of the special Career Pathways edition of the COABE Journal.

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COABE has published a Journal for 40+ years. As a member of COABE, we invite you to access our special Career Pathways edition which features articles by the very best researchers, practitioners, and leaders in the field of Adult Education.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week


The intent of a nationally recognized week of concentrated events, activities, and media is to bring recognition to the field of adult and family literacy. It is our opportunity to highlight the value of the work we do and the people we serve. It gives us a reason to showcase our programs with policy and decision makers. We get to advocate!

At the national level you can join us for COABE on Capitol Hill Day, September 27. We are encouraging teams of an adult education provider and a student to join. If you are interested, please click here.

At the state level, invite your district representatives to your program. Include those from the districts where your students live.

At the local level invite your assemblyperson, the mayor, judges, and other people with whom you and your students might interact at the policy or decision making level.  At the program level honor your students, volunteers, and staff with special recognition through an event or a thank you.

Include the media and let the invitees know you have asked the media to come.

For all levels use the Educate and Elevate contact button here to easily send your invitation and material about your program and activities to your representatives at all levels. Use the Educate and Elevate toolkit for press releases, facts, and talking points. In your invitation tell the guest what you would like them to do. It is always a good idea to give them an assignment - talk to the students about an issue, meet with the citizenship classes and practice the interview questions, read a book or story. Prepare your students for the meeting. Include who is coming, why, what will you want to tell them? Always follow up with a thank you. You can watch our short webinar on the value of local level outreach here.

COABE will be sharing tools for Adult Ed and Family Literacy Week very shortly - stay tuned!

Additionally, we have launched a new award for advocacy, aimed at recognizing advocacy at the local level. The winner will receive a $2,000 stipend plus registration paid to attend COABE 2019! More details will be shared in our September update. 

Contact with questions.

In Memory of Lee Anderson


It is with a heavy heart that we share that Lee Anderson, Founder and CEO of SMRT Education passed away. Lee partnered with COABE as a VIP Vendor and thought partner since 2015. He had hoped to sponsor our new data strand, and was passionate about providing exciting WIOA compliant data management tools for the field of adult education. His ingenuity and spirit will be missed!

COABE Welcomes New Board Members

Please join us in welcoming Jesse McCree, Workforce Committee Chair and Jeff Abramowitz, Prison Literacy Committee Chair to the COABE Board of Directors.

Jesse McCree, Workforce Committee Chair


Jesse McCree is the CEO of SCPa Works, the regional workforce development board whose mission is to unlock the human talent that drives the development of businesses and individuals, creating opportunity for growth and prosperity for the South Central PA region. Under Jesse's leadership, SCPa Works invests over $14M of public funds, annually supporting a labor force of over 740,000 people. SCPa Works invests in, evaluates, and advances high impact workforce development programs, training centers, and policies that drive our regional economic growth by connecting the needs of business and job seekers. Jesse has a bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College (Maine), a master's degree in public administration from Cornell University (NY), and 11 years of experience in nonprofit management, public policy, and workforce development. He is currently enrolled in Harvard Kennedy School's Executive Education program for nonprofit leadership, and serves on numerous boards of community organizations such as the PA Workforce Development Association and U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council.

Jeffrey Abramowitz, J.D. is the founder/CEO of NWON Community Engagement Partnership and the founder of the National Workforce Opportunity Network, a fully integrated workforce development and career placement agency. NWON CEP, is a nonprofit agency that provides workshops, training, and workforce development for individuals/agencies that work with individuals with barriers to gainful employment. Jeff currently serves as a 2018 JustleadershipUSA Leading With Conviction Fellow.

Jeff Abramowitz, Prison Literacy Committee Chair


Currently he provides reentry agency staff support and training and facilitates a weekly reentry workshop at Temple University, assisting returning citizens with their transition home, helping them find their career pathway and gainful employment. Jeff serves as a member of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council and chairs the Housing, Education, Employment and Development Subcommittee, and Co-chairs the Community Engagement Committee for the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition, Co-facilitates the Temple University New Opportunities Workshop, and instructs for Temple University Pan African Community Education Program. He serves on the Board of Directors of Community Forgiveness & Restoration and the Peirce College Paralegal Studies & Criminal Justice Advisory Committees. He lectures for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Probation & Parole Departments and the United States District Court for the ED of PA. He is on the Board of Directors for Community Restoration and Forgiveness and the Advisory Board for the Petey Greene Organization. Jeff is a keynote speaker and lecturer around the country on issues of adult education, workforce development, and criminal justice.

Leadership Training Available

Leadership training available from the
nstitute for Educational Leadership.  


Apply today to participate in the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), a 10-month professional development program for emerging and mid-level leaders. EPFP combines regular meetings and activities specific to each of our 17 state-based site programs with events of national scope to provide an enriching experience for 300 Fellows each year. To apply, click here to find the EPFP site nearest you.

IEL and COABE, together with NASDAE are partners in the groundbreaking Minds that Move Us initiative.

CrowdED Learning: Making the Promise of OER Integration a Reality for Adult Education

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CrowdED Learning is a newly formed 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose aim is to ensure adult education instructors and learners have awareness of and access to the best publisher, free, and open learning resources. Over the past year, they have been working to find high-quality free and open education resources aligned to the core academic, employability, and 21st-Century skills needed for college and career readiness success.

In May of this year, CrowdED Learning launched their Skill Directory - a compilation of free and open education resources in areas such as reading, math, science, digital literacy, employability skills, and more. Over the next few months, they will begin a webinar series that features educators who are integrating resources from the directory with their students, sharing their strategies for how to successfully integrate free and open education resources into instruction.

Starting this fall, CrowdED Learning is excited to start building their first major platform - SkillBlox -  a learning plan generator that will ease the process of finding quality free AND publisher resources that align to the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. Through partnerships with publishers and assessment companies, SkillBlox is a completely free tool that will allow instructors to identify the publisher resources they are using as well as the free and open education resources they already are or are interested in using. Then, simply by entering student proficiency levels as reported on the new NRS tests, SkillBlox will generate a personalized learning plan for each student based on the skills each student needs to develop using the resources that are available and have aligned content to each skill.

Want to check out CrowdED Learning's Skill Directory? CLICK HERE

Want to learn more about SkillBlox? CLICK HERE

Legislative Alert



For the first time in over a decade, the Senate has taken their version of the FY 19 Labor-HHS bill to the floor, with a host of amendments to be offered this week. Leadership officials expected to debate a host of floor amendments with the completion of the bill to occur sometime before Labor Day. The Labor-HHS bill has been attached to the FY 19 Defense Appropriations bill, which is the most popular of all of the appropriations bills, in order to give it additional leverage for passage.

The Senate Labor-HHS bill has been a bipartisan effort that provides $2 billion more in overall funding (just over one percent),  

It includes an overall increase for the Department of Education of $541 million and cuts the Department of Labor by $92 million. The good news is our key program priorities are either funded at current levels or would receive an increase:

  • WIOA Title II programs would receive a $25 million increase;
  • WIOA Title I formula programs for Adults and Youth are funded at current levels;
  • Career and Technical Education programs are level funded;
  • Pell Grants would be increased by $100 million.


While significant progress is being made in the Senate, it is unclear when or if the FY 19 House Labor-HHS bill will move forward. The bill is flat-funded, with no more overall funding than in FY 18 --- which resulted in a highly partisan fight over funding in the full Appropriations Committee, with the bill passing without the support of any Democrats.

Of particular interest to us, the House bill provides the Department of Education with a modest $43 million increase above current levels and the Department of Labor would be cut $82 million. 

While the Employment and Training Administration was reduced by $216 million, WIOA Title I formula programs would continue at FY 18 levels.  

Key education programs were largely funded at current levels including WIOA Title II Adult Education and Literacy programming and Pell Grants. However, the House bill does propose a $102 million increase for Career and Technical Education programs.

At this point, it is questionable whether the House Labor-HHS will pass on the floor, unless some Democrats can be convinced to vote for the bill, which will be difficult without a significant increase in overall funding --- which is highly unlikely to occur, as a number of House conservatives oppose the bill in its current form.  


Regardless of whether we see any further movement of the Labor-HHS bill in the House, at some point, there will be a conference between the House and Senate to hammer out the details of a final FY 19 Labor-HHS appropriations bill. We do not expect that these negotiations will conclude until after the November elections, but unlike last year, where we had another six-month wait after the commencement of the fiscal year to finalize the appropriations bills, the FY 19 negotiations should wrap up rather soon after the elections. In the interim, we encourage your support for the Senate's $25 million increase for Adult Education and Literacy programs.

A Memorial Tribute to Aretha Franklin: Meeting the Need for RESPECT with Adult Basic Skills Education

Tom Sticht, International Consultant in Adult Education (Ret.)


Aretha Franklin, the high school dropout who went on to become the “Queen of Soul” with honorary degrees from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, wrote a song about her need for RESPECT. She sang out, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me”. Aretha Franklin passed away today, August 16, 2018, aged 76, respected by millions of people around the world. Not only was Aretha Franklin an iconic songstress, during the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s she contributed extensively to the actions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others to bring literacy, civil, and voting rights to African Americans.

As a memorial tribute to Aretha Franklin, here is a brief note about what RESPECT means to adults seeking to improve their basic reading, writing, and numeracy skills.

In January of 2007, I went to Dublin, Ireland to present a speech at a conference of adult literacy tutors sponsored by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). The theme of the conference was Sustaining Motivation for Adult Literacy Learners. As I thought about this theme, and how I might frame remarks that would fit with it, I glanced at the bulletin board by my desk. There I noticed the photos of the grand, main building of the New York Public Library (NYPL) that I have tacked to the board. 

I have long admired the NYPL located on the south-west corner of the intersection of 42nd street and 5th avenue. I am particularly fond of the two massive sculptures of lions that guard the main entrance to the library. During the great depression of the 1930s, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia dubbed the two sculptures of lions with the names Patience and Fortitude. Mayor LaGuardia told the citizens of New York that patience and fortitude were the qualities they would require to survive the economic depression gripping the nation and New York City. 

This lead me to think that these great lions, Patience and Fortitude, also represent the qualities that adult literacy tutors require to persist in helping adult literacy learners maintain their motivation in what can often be a long and difficult struggle for literacy. In many ways, the adult literacy tutors are the Lions of Literacy. They help guide adult learners into the great library of books of the world which provide access to the collected knowledge of the ages. 

As I studied the photo of Patience and Fortitude, I came to the thought that there was something that bonded these two qualities and sustained them. Then I thought of Aretha Franklin and her hit song, RESPECT. It occurred to me that respect is what builds the bond between tutors and learners, a bond maintained by patience and fortitude on the part of both tutors and learners. 

For my presentation in Dublin, I built on these thoughts and developed the idea that the seven letters of the word R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that Aretha Franklin spelled out in her song could serve as a mnemonic for seven factors that taken together can help sustain motivation for the work of teaching and learning in adult literacy education. 


R: Relevance to the learner's lives 

E: Engagement with the learning experience 

S: Social capital development for learners 

P: Participation by learners in choosing goals, curriculum materials & 

E: Educational opportunities across the life span & across multiple
life cycles 

C: Community support for adult literacy education 

T: Teachers/tutors who care about adults, literacy, & learning 

Following a brief overview of these seven factors, I focused on R, for Relevance. I recounted the stories of three great adult literacy educators who focused on the relevance to the lives of their students of the materials they were using to teach adults to read. 

First, the story of Harriet Jacobs, the former slave girl of the mid-1800s who taught an old black man to read using the Bible, which was what he wanted to learn to read.

Next, an account of the work of Cora Wilson Stewart in 1911 to start the Moonlight Schools of Kentucky and the materials she wrote in books called the Country Life Readers. These books taught reading in the context of farming, home making, health for the family, community development and other topics of relevance to the lives of the country folks who came to class on moon lit nights. 

Finally, the Queen Mother of the civil rights movement in the United States during mid-20th century was identified as Septima Poinsette Clark. She started Citizenship Schools to teach African-Americans to read and write so they could vote. This was the relevant goal for these American citizens who were being denied voting rights and hence social justice because of illiteracy. Septima Clark knew the importance of developing literacy and power by making the materials of education relevant to the lives of her students. 

To sustain the motivation of adult students in the often arduous task of learning to read and write adult literacy tutors need both patience and fortitude. But above all, they need to have R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for their students. And the primary letter of that word, R, stands for Relevance. Over a century of professional wisdom by those on whose shoulders we stand confirms the importance of relevance in adult literacy education. 

Today's adult literacy teachers and tutors carry on the important work of respecting adult students and providing relevant literacy education sustained by both patience and fortitude. They are the Lions of Literacy in the 21st century. 

With R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for Aretha Franklin may she R.I.P.!

Congratulations to COABE's new Strand Partner Chair! Ms. Connie Rivera

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Connie Rivera facilitates opportunities for adult learners and their teachers that enable them to learn in new environments, discover connections, and develop greater understanding of the subject matter. Connie is proud to have served as president of the Adult Numeracy Network and as the Numeracy Strand Partner to COABE during her presidency. During her time of service as strand partner, Connie suggested new and innovative ideas that helped systematize and streamline the conference experience for strand partners and conference attendees. Connie is, perhaps, best known for her dedication to the field and desire for a standard of excellence. 

Scott Stump Confirmed as New OCTAE Assistant Secretary

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Scott Stump was confirmed by a  vote of 85-0 to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). ACTE, a national partner of COABE, had  endorsed Stump's nomination, and following the confirmation, released a  joint statement with Advance CTE applauding the bipartisan support he received.  

In remarks prior to the vote, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee,  stated that "Mr. Stump's resume shows he is a nominee qualified for this position." Following the confirmation, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)  tweeted that Stump "is the right person to implement Perkins CTE at the national level."

Secretary DeVos also  tweeted that she was "thrilled to welcome Scott Stump to [the Department of Education]." Noting his "qualifications & wealth of experience," she said that "[his] leadership will be critical as we work to expand the ed pathways available to all students throughout their lifelong learning journeys."

The confirmation comes on the heels of proposals from the Department of Education (ED) to  consolidate OCTAE into a primarily postsecondary office. ACTE strongly opposes the proposal and helped circulate  a letter signed by 25 organizations opposing the move. The Trump Administration also recently proposed  merging ED with the Department of Labor.

Secretary DeVos: National Council for the American Worker Will Put America's Students First

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement: 

"With today's announcement, President Trump continues to make good on his promise to put America's students and workers first. This Administration understands that a dynamic and changing economy requires dynamic and changing approaches to education and workforce development. The partnerships announced today involve those who are best-positioned to identify ideas and drive solutions. The President's new initiative helps engage leaders across diverse sectors in an effort to open new pathways and opportunities for America's students who should be free to pursue successful careers and meaningful lives." 

Looking for more information from the Department of Education? Sign Up For Email Updates here.

Seeds of Literacy Request

Seeds of Literacy, an adult literacy nonprofit in Cleveland, Ohio, is helping a Cleveland Foundation Team who is participating in the Knight Foundation Community Information Lab, a national Human Design Project. The Cleveland Foundation Team is studying information gaps around adult literacy in Cleveland. 

Seeds of Literacy is searching for COABE members providing adult literacy services who have used innovative and successful ways to:

  • identify community ambassadors for student recruitment
  • efficiently use referral networks to increase enrollment
  • collect literacy data in neighborhoods or communities
  • or any other innovation that has improved your adult literacy services!

Please send your contact information and a brief description to Sharon Bonney, Executive Director of COABE, at Thank you!