REAching young adults with low ACHievement in literacy (REACH)

The cooperation project “REAching young adults with low ACHievment in literacy” (REACH), which is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), is led by the Stiftung Lesen (German Reading Foundation). REACH is aimed at young adults between 16 and 35 years old who are on the so-called alpha–level 3—a special group among adults with poor literacy: They profit most strongly from remedial programs for their long-term professional life.

Focus of REACH

The project focuses on young adults between 16 and 35 because …

  • They can have the greatest and most sustainable benefit from remedial programs,
  • Addressing them early will hopefully lead to maintaining and strengthening their reading competence,
  • Addressing them will motivate and empower them to become reading role models for their children.

To find ways of access, there is a necessity to identify …

  • (Key) persons and locations through which target groups can be reached,
  • Communicative approaches and pathways such as the media,
  • Content-related links: topics, fields of interest, and activities.

Goals of REACH

  • Reviewing the suitability of access ways, which can already be derived from practical experience,
  • Identification and review through characterizing the target group in the most differentiated and precise way possible,
  • Analysis of living conditions, features, habits, and mindsets (e.g., media usage, activities in social media, living situation, family situation, interests and habits during leisure time, etc.)

To achieve this, no new data will be collected, but rather existing data will be used as effectively as possible, and linked with each other. Subsequently, a small number of potential ways of accessing and addressing will be tested by way of a pilot study and simultaneously evaluated.

Project Phases

First Project Phase: Addressing social and educational actors in an unbiased way

In the first (qualitative) phase of the project, the focus is on the systematic gathering of ideas and suggestions for ways of accessing young adults. To facilitate this, a small number of main questions will be given through an online-tool to actors who are working with mainly practical approaches in the domains of literacy and basic education.
Second Project Phase: Secondary analysis of available data sources in two steps

In the second project phase, the first step will be to characterize young adults between 16 and 35 from the so-called alpha-level 3, who are a special group among adults with poor literacy. For this purpose, the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) data of the Starting Cohort Adults, as well as data from the leo. Level One Study and the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) will be used. To characterize the target group with the help of NEPS data, people with weak reading abilities were identified beforehand by employing the bookmark method, based on the leo. Level One Study.


In a second step, the gathered indicators of Step 1 will be transferred to new data sources. The goal is a deeper analysis of traits, habits, preferences, and living situations of the target group. To achieve this goal, different data sources will be used, which do not need to contain indicators for reading competency because they have already been obtained in Step 1: data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Growth from Knowledge (GfK), Allensbach Institute, health monitoring, health insurance company AOK, and other sources.
Third Project Phase: Qualitative substantiation of identified options (10/2017–05/2018)
The third project phase aims to create realistic limitations to keep the project feasible, as well as the development of concrete advice and plans of action. Therefore, the assumptions (from Phase 1) verified by the data analyses (from Phase 2 / Steps 1 and 2) will be tested for their suitability with qualitative methods. To achieve this, in-depth interviews with members of the target group, as well as group discussions with possible multipliers will be conducted.
Fourth Project Phase: Pilot initiation and concurrent evaluation of promising project proposals (06/2018–08/2020)
During the fourth project phase, a small number of ways of access and possible ways of approach will be tested through a pilot study and simultaneously evaluated. Starting in 2020, promising projects, which can be implemented on a supra-regional or on a national level, can be used as a basis for possible transfers.

Duration:  06/2016 until 08/2020

Project Lead: Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories)
REACH–coordination partners

REACH is conducted by a network of several cooperation partners:

Project Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung)

Project Management: Coordination office “Decade for Literacy” (Dekade für Alphabethisierung)

Project Coordinator: German Reading Foundation (Stiftung Lesen)


Cooperation Partners:
LIfBi–Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe)

gesis–Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (Leibniz-Institut für Sozialforschung)

Universität Hamburg  | Faculty of Education

GfK–Growth from Knowledge

IfD–Allensbach Institute (Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach)

WIDO–Scientific Institute of the AOK (Wissenschaftliches Institut der AOK)