County-Level Adult Education Resource Listings Now Available
By: Marcus J. Hopkins
February 28th, 2023
The Appalachian Learning Initiative (APPLI, pronounced like "apply") has begun rolling out the latest feature on our website: county-level adult education resources.
We began compiling a list of adult education providers in early-2022 when we first started as an organization. What we quickly discovered were three things:
The process of finding active adult education providers in the United States is not an easy one.
The COVID-19 Pandemic appears to have resulted in the closure of several resources.
Existing resource directories don't often consider geographic barriers.
Anyone who lives in rural Appalachia can attest that finding resources can be complex. Whether you're seeking nutrition assistance, help with transportation, or resources to improve your proficiency in reading or math, the resources that exist are often few and far between and may rely upon word of mouth to deliver services.
When it came to seeking resources, our first stop was the National Literacy Directory (NLD). This fantastic resource allows users to search for providers in the United States using their zip code or city and state. As we began gathering information, we started by searching for resources zip code by zip code in every Appalachian County.
What we quickly discovered, however, was that the NLD only allows for searches that provide results up to a 25-mile radius. While this is incredibly useful, it doesn't allow users to determine whether or not those services are actually offered in their home counties or to which demographic groups their services are offered (e.g., K-12 children or adults). Additionally, 25 miles in Appalachia can be the difference between an area with public transportation and accessible roads and winding mountain passes that all but require a private vehicle.
We've discovered that many resources listed in the NLD are no longer operating. While almost all of the community and technical colleges providing Adult Basic Education (ABE) services are still delivering those in their communities and across multiple counties, several independent organizations and non-profits have either ceased operations or are operating under a new name and haven't updated their listings.
To address these issues, APPLI began circulating the Appalachian Adult Education Providers survey, reaching out to over 1,000 contacts gathered over the last year in an attempt to build our own county-level directory.
We began receiving responses to our survey in early February and began populating these data on both our state pages and our Resources page in late February. So far, we've received responses from organizations in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
What's Included in Each Entry?
In developing this resource guide, we wanted to ensure that the majority of questions an adult learner might have are answered:
Who's providing the service?
Where are they providing it and in which counties?
What services do they offer and do they charge for those services?
How are those services provided (e.g., in-person, virtual, et cetera)?
Where can I learn more about the provider (e.g., websites, social media)?
Who do I contact for more information and how?
Design-wise, we're having some issues with getting the logo formatting to work as intended, but we are actively developing a solution that should be in place in the coming weeks.
In addition to our survey, we have been adding additional providers to our project management software, ClickUp, and are actively reaching out to these organizations to determine if they are still providing services.
So, when will this be complete?
As with every directory, the true answer is, "Never." Because of the dynamic nature of resource guides, we know that this directory will continue to grow over time as more providers respond to our survey and we are able to confirm that other providers are still in operation.
What we will do in 2023 is produce printable Resource Guides for each of Appalachia's 13 states that will be released alongside our 2023 Annual Report in November of this year.
In the meantime, please keep checking our website to discover new resources as our Appalachian Adult Education Providers Directory grows.