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Commissioners and guest presenters from the Commission's April 17, 2007 meeting. Photos on this page may be accessed full-size and to a high resolution by clicking the image of interest. Groups that wish to use them to illustrate coverage of the Commission or issues it is addressing are welcome to do so.

[Photographs by Jeffrey Neira]


The National Commission on Adult Literacy was formed in June 2006 and spent the next two years examining adult education and literacy services in America. This independent panel of labor and business leaders, government officials, and educators, including experts from the adult literacy arena, was selected for its depth and range of experience and its willingness to look beyond current vested interests to 21st Century needs. The group determined early on that it wanted to provide a candid appraisal and bold new recommendations for the future, with emphasis on essential workforce skills.

The Commission’s study director was Cheryl King, former commissioner of adult education and workforce development in Kentucky, and currently president of Kentucky Wesleyan College. David Perdue, who retired during the course of the study as Chairman and CEO of the Dollar General Corporation, served as Commission chair. Gail Spangenberg, president of the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, initiated and managed the Commission.

The panel’s five full-group meetings were held in New York City (three), in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, and at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Commissioners were active throughout the process in various subcommittees and working groups. Since releasing their final report, most are active in follow-up and implementation activities. The Commission contracted an array of policy briefs and research papers during its two years of deliberations, all available from the Publications page of this website.

Lead funding for the Commission’s work came from the Dollar General Corporation ($1 million), with supplemental funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the McGraw-Hill Companies, Harold W. McGraw, Jr., the Ford Foundation, and The Joyce Foundation.

The Commission’s final report, Reach Higher, America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce was released at The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on June 26th, in an invitational event planned by Widmeyer Communications.



The idea for the independent Commission goes back several years, when Harold W. McGraw, Jr., the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation gave modest exploratory funding. Important ground work was laid, communications continued between the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (the Commission’s fiscal agent and manager) and other adult education leaders, and a convergence of favorable factors brought it into being in 2006.




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Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL)