AEFL Week Virtual Celebration

The Teaching and Learning and the Science groups met yesterday to highlight and celebrate sharing student success stories and positive changes in our programs from the past year! 

We would like to share the Listen Up for Literacy & Justice initiative. This initiative, a project of the Literacy Assistance Center, invites adult literacy education students and graduates in New York to contribute their stories to this collection. The goal is to amplify adult student voices to share their experiences and ideas with each other and to inform education programs and policymakers.

In addition, here is the STRENGTHENING ADULT LITERACY EDUCATION: Results from the NYC Pilot Project Fiscal Year 2022.  This report was funded by the New York City Council and supported by the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) as part of the NYC Adult Literacy Pilot Project. *The conclusions and recommendations of this report reflect the views of the LAC and do not reflect the official policy or position of any city entity.


These are incredible initiatives. The pilot project really highlights common struggles that programs face in providing learners what they need. I found the graph of how pilot funds were spent very interesting. It would be interesting to see if other major cities see potential in the recommendations.

The Listen Up for Literacy and Justice is simply amazing. I've already listened to three of the stories. I like that they are not too long and that the two questions are set up as different chapters. I will definitely integrate these into my classroom. My learners love hearing from other adult education students. It would be incredible to see this kind of project in every state. Have you seen instructors use this story collection in their classroom? What was the learner response?


Thank you for taking the time to explore students' Listen Up stories! My name is Uma T. Mohanty, and I’m part of the team at the Literacy Assistance Center in NYC that has developed the Listen Up project. Instructors and students have engaged with the stories project in a range of ways. In the past, we have visited classrooms to introduce the Listen Up project and work with students directly. We have run similar Listen Up sessions over Zoom with small groups of students where we guide them through the process of developing and sharing their stories and then recording them to the online platform. Several instructors have worked independently to integrate the project in their classes. The project requires some logistical steps and a moderate level of comfort speaking in English, being audio-recorded, and having their story be made public (although some are anonymous). We have found that students are interested in hearing each other’s stories and those who do contribute their stories are really excited and motivated to share about who they are and how adult literacy education has impacted their lives.

We also asked programs from the NYC Pilot Project to identify a couple students from their programs to participate in Listen Up. Those students worked with instructors within their program to develop and record their stories. While it requires some work on the part of instructors, we would love to see more programs take on the Listen Up project in their own classrooms as part of lessons on digital storytelling, personal narrative, or social justice (to name a few ideas). 

Practicing the questions in pairs or small groups or turning them into writing prompts for students are great ways for them to get comfortable with the questions before recording and to practice other skills. The process of creating a log in, recording, and uploading photos for their story can be valuable for practicing digital skills. The collection can also be a good resource just to listen to the stories in a class, for students to practice comprehension, discussion, and sharing their own experiences.

Listen Up is an opportunity for students to share their experiences and hear from peers, develop a broader sense of community/solidarity among adult education students, and be part of a public project where their stories are valued and shared widely. The hope is that students feel ownership over their stories, are able to connect with other adult education learners, and gain new insights and skills through this process of self-reflection. We’re also sharing the stories as part of advocacy efforts. Right now, Listen Up is only collecting stories from students in NY, but the collection of stories can be shared anywhere and other cities/states could develop something similar. If you have questions or want to learn more about how we set this project up, please contact me at Thank you.