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Mission & History


The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy strengthens the countywide adult English literacy network to support a thriving community and effective workforce.

Aspirational Vision Statement

MCAEL envisions a culturally diverse community where dreams are achieved through the power of literacy.

MCAEL History and County Need for Services 

In 2002, county elected officials and community leaders convened a task force to develop strategies to support the growing limited English proficient (LEP) population and to respond to the demand for an English-literate workforce. A study commissioned by the Montgomery County Council and carried out by Montgomery College and the international research organization, Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), identified that while a rich tapestry of government, community and faith-based providers offered adult ESOL programs, there was a significant lack of countywide coordination, collaboration and capacity. Programs worked mostly in isolation, with scarce technical, human and financial resources. Demand for English classes was far from being met, as evidenced by waitlists of well over 2,000 individuals. In 2003, following up on the study, Montgomery County Council & Montgomery College worked with providers and community stakeholders to develop a strategic action plan to improve the delivery system. Based on the task force’s recommendations, a community coalition was formed in 2005 and later incorporated as MCAEL in 2006.

As of 2022, Montgomery County is a majority-minority county of over 1 million residents. Of those, about 10% of the adults are self-identified as being limited in their English proficiency. The programs in the MCAEL network now serve about 11,000 adults each year; yet, there are still tens of thousands who would benefit from classes were we able to serve them all.

In 15 years of being a stand-alone nonprofit, MCAEL has supported a growing network of adult English class providers. County Executive Marc Elrich has added support to MCAEL’s funding over his time as County Executive and MCAEL staff has nearly tripled in size. Thanks to funding from the Montgomery County government, MCAEL has provided capacity building grants to providers of adult ESOL classes since 2009. In FY22, MCAEL provided $1,345,000 in grant funding (up from $525,000 in 2009) to 23 organizations for 31 programs. These programs included both managed enrollment classes, which offered learners 120 hours of instruction over a year, as well as less formal open entry/drop-in and conversation classes.

MCAEL Publications


Finda an ESOL Class with MCAEL


MCAEL Meetings and Workshops for Providers and Instructors


Online Resources


MCAEL Calendar of Events


Find a Job or Volunteer with MCAEL


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