Adult Education and Literacy: An Essential Investment in Colorado in 2014

Colorado is the only state that does not set aside state dollars for Adult Education!

340,360
Adults with no High School credential
10.1% of Colorado’s workforce is not prepared for post-secondary education or middle-skill jobs. 1
157,455
Adults who do not speak English
3% of adult working population, some with post-secondary credentials, cannot fill available jobs in critical sectors. 2
15,006
Colorado High School Seniors not graduating “on-time”
24.6% of the 2012 graduating class requires remediation not available in the CO Higher Education system. 3

Yet only 3% (10,8124) of those that would benefit from services were able to enroll in 2012! 4


Additional economic impact of underfunding Adult Education programs includes:

  • Significantly higher unemployment (14% for those w/no H.S. credential, only 8% for those w/Associate’s degree) 5
  • Lower taxable income and increased social services (each non-graduate costs CO $524,000 - lifetime average) 6
  • Increased recidivism and lower employment rate upon release for inmates w/out academic or vocational training. 7
  • 34% of Colorado’s children in non-English immigrant families live in poverty and 11% suffer extreme poverty, reducing K-12 academic success and increasing dropout rates. 8

Adult Education programs fill critical education gaps between High School and Higher Education with services that:

  • Provide literacy and numeracy training (Increasing service to include those no longer served by community colleges due to recent cutbacks.)
  • Prepare Coloradans to be job-ready for middle-skill careers (those requiring more than high school yet less than university degrees; currently a critical need in Colorado’s workforce.)
  • Collaborate with Workforce centers and function as pathways to post-secondary opportunities
  • Connect families with vital resources to stop the cycle of poverty and incarceration
  • Educate citizens so they can make informed civic, financial, and health care decisions
  • Incorporate the National Common Core Standards to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.

Without appropriate funding, instructional offerings are limited, program wait lists are long, and critical industry sectors continue to hire from out-of-state due to lack of skilled workers!


Commissioned by the Colorado Adult Education Professional Association


  1. “State Data Snapshot” Working Poor Families Project, www.workingpoorfamilies.org/states/popups/colorado.html 

  2. “Tapping the Potential: Profile of Adult Education Target Population” Office of Vocational and Adult Education, www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/AdultEd/state-profiles.htm 

  3. Colorado Department of Education, “Graduates and Completers by District” www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/gradcurrent 

  4. CO Adult Education System of Accountability and Reporting (CAESER), FY2012. 

  5. Jones, Rich and Frank Waterous, “Opportunity Lost: 2010 Update.” The Bell Policy Center. Denver, CO 

  6. “Start with the Facts” A+ Denver 2011. 

  7. “Education and Vocational Training in Prisons Reduces Recidivism, Improves Job Outlook”, Rand Corporation. 2013. 

  8. “Investing in a Bright Future for All of Colorado’s Kids” Colorado Children’s Campaign. 2011.