The Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition helps Chicago’s Adult Education organizations secure resources and training so that underserved adult learners can become economically successful, and reframes adult basic education as a critical public policy issue.


In 2003, a cadre of adult literacy providers incorporated the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition to advocate for, and improve the quality of, adult literacy programs throughout the city. Since adult literacy levels are a key quality of life indicator, the founders saw adult basic education as an overlooked linchpin to economic and community development initiatives in Chicago.

These professionals shared resources, information, and hosted job fairs through a network of coalitions throughout the city’s North, South and West sides, and with the Hispanic Literacy Council.

In 2008, the CCLC broadened its mission and renewed its commitment to elevating the issue of adult literacy after attending the National Literacy Coalition conference. In 2009, a Steering Committee was formed, composed of Program Officers from local philanthropic foundations, a representative from University of Illinois Chicago’s Center for Literacy, and another from the Illinois Community College Board.

In 2010, the Coalition received its first three grants from the Fry Foundation, the Boeing Corporation, and the McCormick Foundation.

As of 2012, the Coalition’s paid membership has doubled. The organization has grown from a virtually unknown volunteer-run organization to a group that works closely with workforce development organizations, the City Colleges of Chicago’s Adult Education department, the Illinois Community College board—and is beginning to coordinate with the Chicago Public School system and the Illinois Department of Human Services.

In addition, the CCLC has strengthened its organizational capacity by hiring an Executive Director and a Membership Director, developing the board through retreats, and hosting two trainings: “Evidence Based Reading Instruction” and “Bridges and Transitions.”

CCLC Timeline