Hidden Gem: Colorado Department of Education’s Adult Education Initiatives

Ally Garcia is the State Director at Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Adult Education Initiatives . They’ve answered some questions below to help librarians around Colorado learn about their organization, agency, and/or services.

Below, you’ll learn about Adult Education Initiatives and their potential to help you serve your community. In addition, at the end of this post we’ve included some of their resources for you to view and/or use. 


Colorado Department of Education logo

Tell us who you are and what you do for CDE’s Adult Education Initiatives.

My name is Dr. Ally Garcia and I am the State Director for the Office of Adult Education Initiatives (AEI).

The state director serves as liaison with various stakeholders of adult education and literacy services across Colorado, including the state and federal entities funding adult education, partners such as the Department of Labor and Employment, and adult education and literacy service providers.

How can Adult Education Initiatives partner with a library to offer resources or programming to the local community of library visitors and users?

For the libraries who are not currently an AEI grantee, libraries can partner with local adult ed programs to host classes at a community space in the library, create a seamless warm-hand off process for prospective learners, and they can apply for their own grant when the grant competition arises.

Another area for collaboration between libraries and grantees could include technology use or lending for adult ed learners as they do not always possess the devices to learn digital literacy skills, an area of instruction by grantees. Libraries might also collaborate with adult education grantees to share available databases and other resources related to career development and exploration.

What needs or challenges can Adult Education Initiatives help libraries address for their communities?

We can be a partner that offers ESL/ Adult Basic Education courses, or GED/HiSet/ or Career Online High School (COHS) opportunities for your patrons.  We can offer guidance and pathways and opportunities for learners to obtain a credential or postsecondary entrance support.

What regions – cities, counties, areas – of Colorado does your organization reach?

Here is the link to our map of the programs the AEI office supports: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeadult/grantees/current-grantees

Do the services or resources from Adult Education Initiatives cost any money?

AEI’s services and resources are provided free of charge. Some adult education programs may require a small fee for testing or supplies. Federal Adult Education Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grantees do not charge the public for Adult Basic Education, English Language Acquisition or Workforce Development classes, state Adult Education Literacy Act (AELA) grantees may depend on the site.  The idea behind the grants is to make sure learners have access and support to complete the courses they need in order to move forward in their career, credentials, and postsecondary acquisition.

Prospective grantees will have to show they have 35% of the funds they are requesting match from the organization they are representing in order to qualify to submit an application. Additionally, prospective grantees have to document that they are using a percentage of their non-grant dollars on adult education.  There will be technical assistance webinars offered to go deeper into requirements.

Do libraries have to provide any funds or apply to any grants to work with Adult Education Initiatives?

If they would like to partner with service providers across the state to become a class site for that provider, then that partnership (funding and other requirements) will be dependent upon the agreements made with the local grantee and library.  If they choose to apply as an adult ed service provider, they will need to submit an RFA during the next grant cycle in 2025, and provide matching funds along with meeting the other requirements in the application.

Do libraries have to provide any staff, volunteers, or training in order to run your programs or provide resources or services with Adult Education Initiatives?

If a library becomes a state or federal adult education grantee (or a subrecipient in partnership with an existing grantee), then, yes, the library will have to meet program objectives, attend training, create standards-aligned curriculum that follows best practices, and assess student learning and progress according to grant requirements. The grants can help supplement salaries and tools needed for learning and teaching.

What support can you offer libraries to help them access additional resources or funding to bring Adult Education Initiatives to their library?

They can become a grantee or partner with a current grantee to support the local community. Library leadership can subscribe to the CLICK listserv to stay informed of adult ed providers updates, services, and funding opportunities.

Let’s say one of our librarians, directors, or staff contact you and says, “We want to bring Adult Education Initiatives to our community!” What will the next step look like?

I would recommend visiting with/connect with our office and a nearby grantee.  We can also add them to our internal list of potential grantees. There may be partnership possibilities with existing grantees (to become a sub-recipient), and then suggest they think about applying for AEFLA (or AELA funds – which don’t really have a demonstrated effectiveness requirement). I might also suggest they reach out to one of the current library grantees to learn more about their experience working under a state and/or federal grant. Those libraries are Mesa County Libraries Adult Learning Center and Pikes Peak Library District Adult Education.

You will be attending a Virtual Partner Forum with the Colorado State Library Adult Education Initiatives where you can answer questions directly from Colorado libraries who are able to attend. How else can people reach you?

Yes!  Via email- garcia_allyson@cde.state.co.us






Cristy Moran