SOE center works to address adult literacy crisis

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week: September 22-28, 2019

Joanne Huebner, manager of the VALRC.
Joanne Huebner

September 22-28, 2019 will mark the annual Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to remind us all that reading, writing and basic math remain an elusive target for 36 million adults nationwide, and that includes Virginia. The Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education (VCU SOE) in Richmond is part of a national network of organizations that work every minute of every day to address the adult literacy crisis.

According to ProLiteracy, a leading organization advancing the cause of adult literacy and basic education in the nation, more than 36 million adults in the U.S. lack the most basic literacy skills, and 15 percent of Americans without a diploma don’t have jobs. Through funding from the Virginia Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (VDOE OCTAE), VALRC educational specialists, Virginia Adult Education local providers, and partner organizations equip Virginia’s adult learners with tools to help educate them and meet the demands of today’s workforce.

About one in six adults is still not literate, and approximately 67.4 million school-aged children are not enrolled in school,” said Joanne Huebner, manager of the VALRC at VCU. “Here at home, in our own state, we know that according to census data we have more than a half-million adult citizens without a high-school diploma.”

She went on to say, “Our provider network is working hard to ‘cause an effect’. Between 2015 and 2018, Virginia Adult Education and Literacy programs have reported serving 57,525 adult learners with 14,271 increasing their English-language proficiency and 14,132 earning high school equivalency credentials (e.g. GED®). What’s more is that 8,662 participants made gains in academic and career readiness skills and hundreds of our adult learners earned industry-recognized credentials that our Virginia employers want. Literacy helps families be healthier and safer and provides people sustainable opportunities to support themselves through work, contributing ultimately to the economic growth of our region and our country.”

“Low literacy costs the nation more than two hundred billion dollars each year in lost productivity, as well as an additional one to two billion in health and safety issues,” said Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Every dollar spent on adult literacy and education provides returns to the country through higher employment, added tax revenues, reduced welfare payments, and less crime.”

In recognition of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, VALRC and its local providers are spreading the word about Adult Education and Literacy in Virginia.

For more information on the work of the VALRC and other literacy organizations in Virginia, visit, call 804-828-6521/800-237-0178, or follow on Twitter or Facebook @VAELN. Fact sheets about Virginia’s progress in adult literacy provided by the VDOE OCTAE can be accessed at