Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy
1221 Avenue of the Americas - 44th Floor
New York, NY 10020
Phone 212-512-2362 ... Fax 212-512-2610



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Founded in 2001, the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL) is a national nonprofit public charity. Its broad mission is to help advance adult education and literacy in the United States – to move adult literacy out of the shadows into the mainstream of American education, as required by the nation’s 21st century needs. CAAL operates on a nonpartisan basis and free of vested interests.

More specifically, CAAL aims to promote understanding, effective policy and resource development, stronger and better funded programs, adult access to services, effective communications, and fresh thinking and analysis. To achieve these goals, it carries out a program of carefully targeted activities: research and analyses, interview-based think pieces, symposia and strategic planning meetings, and special projects designed to further its purposes. It operates with a small core staff of highly experienced professionals and works extensively with experts from across the country as appropriate to its current areas of interest.

CAAL strives to complement the work of other organizations and is open to collaborative opportunities.

The Council grew out of two background assessment and planning projects carried out in early 2001. Funding for that work came from Harold W. McGraw, Jr., The Ford Foundation, and The Carnegie Corporation. One project assessed the status and lingering problems of adult literacy, following the work of the Business Council for Effective Literacy (BCEL); the other explored the feasibility of establishing a blue-ribbon commission on adult literacy. Both projects developed lengthy research and action agendas, and the rationale for them. CAAL was formed to build on that foundation, including the work of BCEL, its predecessor organization.

Officers and Staff


Eunice Askov – Distinguished Professor Emerita, Penn State University, and Co-Director Emerita, Goodling Institute

Morton Bahr – President Emeritus, Communications Workers of America

Forrest Chisman – Author, Jump Start Report; Human Resource Development & Policy Analyst; Executive Vice President, CAAL (a founding member)

Samuel Halperin – Senior Fellow & Founder, American Youth Policy Forum

Cheryl D. King – President, Kentucky Wesleyan College; Study Director, National Commission on Adult Literacy, July 2006-June 2008

Mark Lawrance - Senior Vice President, Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Hon. Ray Marshall – Rapoport Centennial Chair in Economics and Public Affairs, University of Texas (Austin); U.S. Secretary of Labor (Carter)

Gail Mellow – President, LaGuardia Community College

Garrett Murphy – National & State Policy Analyst (a founding member of CAAL)

Mark Musick – James Quillen Chair, East Tennessee State University; President Emeritus, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB); chaired Board of Nationall Assessment of Educational Progress under three presidents

Anthony Sarmiento – President & Executive Director, Senior Service America, Inc.

Gail Spangenberg – President & Founder, Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (a founding member of CAAL)

Andrew Sum – Professor of Labor Economics and Director of Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University

CAAL gratefully recognizes the following individuals for their past board service and contributions:

Bobby William Austin – Vice President of University Relations & Communications, University of District of Columbia

Grace Hechinger – Author, Journalist, Teacher

Harold W. Howe, II – U.S. Commissioner of Education under President Lyndon Johnson, and Vice President for Education, Ford Foundation (a founding board member)

Bridget Lamont – Co-Chair, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science; Past Chair and current member, Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board; Former State Librarian, Illinois

Byron McClenney – former President of Brooklyn Community College and Director of the Ford Foundation Bridges grant program; chairman of the CAAL Community College Transitions Study Task Force

Tom Sticht – Preeminent research scholar (a founding board member)

Gary Strong – University Librarian, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Past President, Queens Public Library; former State Librarian, California

Tony Zeiss – President, Central Piedmont Community College

Arthur White – Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Yankelovich, Inc.; founder (in 1983) of Jobs for the Future