ALL IN Hosts 2024 National Summit: Promoting the Value of Adult Literacy

Sarah Cacicio, ALL IN, Denine Torr, Dollar General, and Dr. Amy Loyd, U.S Department of Education

Washington, D.C. – The Adult Literacy and Learning Impact Network hosted its 2024 National Summit: Promoting the Value of Adult Literacy on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, at American University in Washington, D.C. This invitation-only gathering convened more than 150 education leaders, researchers, policymakers, corporate partners, employers, and advocates to serve as a catalyst for promoting greater awareness and investment in adult literacy nationwide.

One out of five adults in the United States struggles with foundational reading, writing, digital and numeracy skills, and fewer than 10% of adults in need of literacy support are receiving services through public funding. Foundational adult literacy skills are clearly linked to sustained income growth, better healthcare access, improved job prospects for justice-involved and returning citizens, and stronger language and literacy skills among children.

Among the highlights of the day was a panel discussion focused on the return on investment in adult literacy from the perspectives of key stakeholders, including employers, policy makers, and adult learners themselves.

“Adult literacy is a key component of a strong and resilient workforce, driving economic growth and innovation. By investing in adult education programs, including literacy, we ultimately empower individuals with the essential skills and confidence needed to thrive in today’s job market, thus bolstering the nation’s workforce system,” said Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education. “Adult education programs play a vital role in addressing workforce challenges by equipping learners with literacy, numeracy, and job-related skills, subsequently fostering a more competitive and inclusive workforce.”

“At HMGMA, we recognize that literacy is a foundation for knowledge and growth, and a fully literate society enables families, communities, and businesses to thrive,” said Dr. Brent Stubbs, Head of Learning and Development, Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America. “It was an honor to be at this important summit to share and learn best practices that can support our employees and their families.”

The Summit also marked the public release of new research findings about perceptions of adult literacy at the national level. In fall 2023, ALL IN worked with FTI Consulting to conduct a survey of 500 employers across the nation and 200 policy influencers in Washington, D.C. to quantify the scale of the challenge and identify possible solutions. The team also led a focus group with adult learners. You can access the blog post, Advancing Adult Literacy: Mobilizing Business & the Beltway, here.

Key findings explored at the Summit included:

• 1 in 3 employers say that their average employee does not have the literacy skills needed to do their job well, and 2 in 5 say that low literacy is widespread in their company.

• Nearly all employers (99%) recognize the need to support employees with low literacy, but less than half (42%) are actually offering literacy skills instruction or trainings.

• Employers surveyed estimate that they will lose $46 billion in revenue over the next year as a direct result of low literacy among their employees – an estimate that is realistically far lower than the actual impact because of surveyed employers’ propensity to underestimate the scale of low literacy.

These new findings will help guide ALL IN’s efforts to raise awareness and increase investment in literacy-building programs across sectors and communities.

Summit participants also learned about innovation in adult literacy programming from five recent awardees of ALL IN’s first small grants initiative. The research teams offered critical insights for advancing effective, community-engaged, tech-enabled instruction for adult learners, highlighting what works from the perspectives of educators and learners in diverse contexts.

Over the course of the day, attendees were encouraged to identify their role in the adult learning ecosystem and commit to solving a part of the challenge – whether through policy, workplace learning, awareness building or funding key initiatives.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), co-chair of the U.S. Senate Caucus on Adult Literacy, provided remarks on the importance of adult education in creating opportunity and generating prosperity throughout the United States.

“Dollar General has been investing in literacy for over 30 years because it affords innumerable opportunities – not just to improve the quality of life for individuals and families, but to strengthen our workforce and boost our economy,” said Denine Torr, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy at Dollar General and Executive Director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “It’s exciting to bring new partners, from policy makers and corporate leaders to researchers and large employers, into this transformative work to help us achieve even greater, lasting impact.”

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation served as presenting sponsor for the ALL IN National Summit 2024, and provides generous support for ALL IN’s ongoing work.


About ALL IN: The Adult Literacy and Learning Impact Network (ALL IN) is a collective impact initiative formed by national thought leaders in the adult learning field and beyond. Convened by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and generously supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, ALL IN is charged with carrying out the goals of the National Action Plan for Adult Literacy, a multisector, multiyear initiative designed to drive inclusive, collective action to increase adult literacy nationwide. To learn more, visit


Sign up to stay in touch and receive the latest updates on our work to solve America’s literacy challenge.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.