What We Do

Educate Adult Learners

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education represents the system of 55,000 adult educators in the United States. Our roll of active members continues to grow, with more than 23,000 active members and many more educators registering (close to 40,000) annually for special events. Membership allows for participation in our professional development webinars, attending our virtual and national conferences and regional institutes, downloading our research journal, participating in our legislative advocacy initiatives, and joining us in our award winning "Educate and Elevate" national public awareness campaign. 

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education is organized to advance national and international adult education and literacy opportunities for all persons. The purposes of COABE are:

  • To promote adult education and literacy programs, including Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Family Literacy, Skills Development, Workforce Development, and other state, federal, and private programs which assist undereducated and/or disadvantaged adults to function effectively

  • To provide leadership in advancing the education of adults in the lifelong learning process by unifying the profession, developing human resources, encouraging and using research, communicating with the members and the public, offering other member services, and otherwise advancing adult education, and literacy

  • To advocate the development and dissemination of publications, research, methods, and materials, resources, and programs in adult education and literacy

  • To conduct and/or sponsor professional development conferences and activities that provide a forum to provide staff development and advance adult education and literacy


  • We are educators, administrators, mentors, and guides working to improve educational outcomes for adults and build communities.

  • Our members create new opportunities for adult students who need a wide variety of educational support.

  • Some 36 million working age Americans have low literacy skills, and more than 60 million can’t perform simple math.

  • Across the nation, COABE members work tirelessly to help these underserved adults master the skills they need to compete and build careers—and better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.

We advocate for more services, more funding, and less waiting.
COABE and its members promote student resources and the elimination of waiting lists that discourage and delay success. In every state, we support adult education programs that foster essential skills, family literacy, and workforce development.

We are dedicated to helping educators overcome the unique challenges of adult education.
We look for innovative and effective ways to reach more adults who struggle with reading, writing, and problem solving. We develop, promote, and share best practices, policies and research for teaching basic education skills.

With our members’ support, the adults we help land better jobs, pay more in taxes, and are better able to support their families.

  • Our impact lasts for generations: our students pass the skills they learn onto their children, and help them find success too.

  • The need is great and resources are limited.

  • Adult basic education is the foundation of family, community, and national success.