Community Literacy June 25 - 29

Discussion Announcement

We will hold a discussion about community literacy on the National Institute for Literacy Special Topics discussion list during the week of June 25 -29. Our guests for this discussion will include, among others: Margaret Doughty, Carl Guerriere, Petrice Sams- Abiodun, Darlene Kostrub, Jeff Carter, and Kathy Chernus.

We will discuss:

  • what community adult and family literacy means
  • what the community literacy purposes and goals are
  • why community literacy is important
  • who key community literacy stakeholders are
  • examples of community literacy coalitions
  • incentives and strategies for strengthening community literacy
  • how to measure the health, outcomes and impact of community literacy
  • the effect of community literacy on a community
  • what we know about community literacy from research
  • what the relationship is of community literacy to workforce
    literacy, workforce development, and transition to higher education
  • the role of technology in community literacy
  • what resources are needed for effective community literacy
  • how literacy organizations can work together to make literacy a
    top community priority
  • ...and more

Background Reading

  1. Presentations from the National Institute for Literacy Community Literacy Summit held in Washington, D.C. on March 19, 2007
  2. The Community Partnership for Adult Learning (C-PAL) Web site [edited by admin to fix broken link], specifically [edited by admin to fix broken link] and [edited by admin to fix broken link]. The C-PAL Toolbox contains a wide-range of resources that address community-based adult literacy and is available through the Home page, [edited by admin to fix broken link]. The sections include: creating communities; curriculum and instruction (adult basic education/literacy, high school credential programs, English literacy, family literacy, youth in adult literacy, correctional education, and learning disabilities); professional development; workforce development; technology; program management (it covers topics such as funding and grant writing, program evaluation, recruitment and retention, volunteerism); and more resources. (It includes information on the general state of adult literacy and adult education.)

    The Creating Communities Toolbox Section, [edited by admin to fix broken link], features “how-to's,” research, journals, and Web sites that address how to build and sustain community partnerships. These resources are also organized by type of partner, e.g., businesses, community organizations, and government.

    C-PAL’s Building Effective Partnerships Self-Assessment Tool, available at [edited by admin to fix broken link], is an online tool designed to help community organizations evaluate their adult education partnerships. The indicators are drawn from the partnership research and the study of 12 communities. After completing the self-assessment, users receive a profile of their partnerships based upon their responses and are guided to resources that may be useful as they build new or strengthen existing partnerships.

  3. Build Literacy Web Site
    Sponsored by the American Library Association and Verizon, the Web site "features information, materials, and resources about how libraries, local agencies, and corporate partners work together to build stronger community-based literacy partnerships and more literate communities."
  4. Literacy Powerline has planning information in the resources and Literacy FAQ sections that can be downloaded.

Biographies of Guests

Jeff Carter is the Executive Director of D.C. LEARNs, a coalition of over 70 mostly community-based organizations that provide literacy instruction to children, youth, and adults in Washington, D.C. D.C. LEARNs' mission is to lead coalition members in efforts designed to strengthen adult, family and children’s literacy services in the District and present a strong, unified voice on the importance of literacy as an investment in the community. Prior to his appointment to this position, Jeff was the Education Technology Director for the Literacy Division of World Education. Jeff is a member of the Board of Directors of Literacy USA and a member of the District of Columbia Mayor's Adult Literacy Council, which is charged with making adult literacy policy recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.

Kathy Chernus, Director of Adult Education and Literacy for MPR Associates, is the Project Director for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Community Partnerships for Adult Learning (C-PAL) initiative. Since 2002, C-PAL has been exploring how community partnerships expand and improve education for adults and their families. C-PAL gathers and develops resources for adult educators who want to improve the quality of adult education through partnerships with other providers, employers, government agencies, nonprofits, and workforce development organizations. The C-PAL website, [edited by admin to fix broken link], is the primary avenue for sharing these resources. Kathy oversees the research, leads the development of the website, conducts site visits to promising partnerships, develops partnership profiles, disseminates the results, facilitates the work of technical and business advisory groups, and develops new tools and resources. In 2003, the C-PAL staff visited 12 communities around the country to learn how their partnerships have enabled them to better serve adult learners and their families. Profiles of these communities and mini-profiles of six others are available at: [edited by admin to fix broken link]. Kathy is the co-author of Commitment Comes in All Shapes and Sizes, a report summarizing the findings from the study of these partnerships. The report is available at [edited by admin to fix broken link]. Currently, C-PAL is developing an online guide for businesses interested in becoming more involved in adult education and workforce development.

Margaret Doughty is an international literacy consultant providing literacy coalition development services to cities, regions and states. She works with local government, foundations, business and community organizations to link stakeholder, neighborhoods and services together to increase literacy levels through coordinated service provision and community collaboration.

A native of the United Kingdom, Margaret has been involved in literacy in Africa, the Middle East and the United States, developing coalitions, support service learning organizations, facilitating regional literacy planning, advocating for system change and raising resources. She serves on the board of TAALC (the literacy coalition for Texas), Darla’s School for the Mentally Retarded, and Literacy Advance of Houston and works with national literacy organizations on community literacy issues, most recently presenting to the NIFL board on the need for tracking and accountability for community literacy initiatives to demonstrate both short and long term impact.

Carl Guerriere is the founding Executive Director of the Greater Hartford Literacy Council, a not-for-profit organization that serves as a regional broker and resource to coordinate and enhance literacy efforts in the 35-town Metro Hartford region. By providing information and a means for its more than 100 partner organizations to collaborate, the Literacy Council is a catalyst for action, raising the bar for literacy improvement in the region.

Before establishing the Literacy Council, Carl was program coordinator of Read to Succeed, a reading clinic for adults with reading disabilities. Carl also served as Reading Center Manager for Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford, where he moved the program from one-on-one tutoring to small group instruction. Before returning to Hartford in 1995, Carl was Associate Director of the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University in Chicago. Carl has been a teacher and education administrator in New York City; Washington, DC; San Francisco; and Madrid, Spain.

Carl earned a dual Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics and TESOL from Columbia University, Teachers College, an English Teaching Degree from the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas in Madrid, Spain and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Darlene Kostrub serves as the Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition in Florida. She has been in this position since 1992 and has initiated programs involving adult, children and family literacy. She oversees a Literacy*AmeriCorps project that has fifteen members that tutor in 12 community agencies. She is also the director of the Region V Adult Literacy Center providing marketing and training for literacy in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. She is the Vice President for the Florida Literacy Coalition and the Vice Chair for the Florida Reach Out and Read Program. As a founding board member and past president of Literacy USA, she has been involved in bringing together literacy coalitions across the country to share best practices in community literacy. The Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition collaborates with over 130 community literacy organizations as well as business and the media.

Petrice Sams-Abiodun (A-bee-o-dun) is the Executive Director for the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy at Loyola University, where she has an opportunity to combine her research and social justice agendas to address the issue of adult literacy. In her role as the Director she is examining the broader issue of literacy as a vehicle for personal, economic and community empowerment. In an effort to link research with practice she works closely with the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans and other community and faith-based organizations to eradicate low literacy. She is personally committed to using her experience and skills to develop a stronger New Orleans and to this end serves on numerous advisory boards and committees.

Dr. Sams-Abiodun is a former resident of New Orleans public housing and a graduate of New Orleans public schools. She received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tulane University in 2003. As a social demographer, her goal is to use research for the development and liberation of traditionally marginalized and oppressed people. Her research areas include urban poverty and family issues. Her present research focuses on the role and responsibilities of men as fathers, family and community members. She has been invited to numerous conferences to share her work and is presently working on a book that examines strengths as well as the plight of low income African American men. Her research contributes to a national agenda that is assisting in the rethinking of how we view male attachment in low income families, family structure and formation.

Questions we will Discuss

  1. What is Community Literacy?
    • What does community adult and family literacy mean?
    • What are the purposes and goals of community literacy?
    • Why is community literacy important?
    • Typically, who are the key community literacy stake holders?
  2. How are Community Literacy Coalitions Developed and Sustained?
    • How do providers approach potential partners (other providers, businesses, social services, local government)?
    • How do local partnerships generate the financial support they need to meet the literacy needs of their communities?
    • What resources are needed for effective community literacy collaboration?
    • How do providers sustain partnerships over the long haul?
    • How do community-based literacy efforts survive transitions in leadership?
    • What are some good examples of community literacy coalitions?
    • What are some incentives and strategies for strengthening community literacy?
    • How do community literacy coalitions or partnerships assure the quality of instruction? Is this an issue? If so, what are some ways quality gets addressed?
    • Are there performance measures for community literacy? If so what are they?
    • How can we learn from the experiences of other countries, particularly those that have built successful literacy movements?
    • What steps can we take to ensure that adult learners and other residents in the learners' communities are providing leadership to community literacy initiatives?
  3. How can we measure community literacy outcomes and impact?
    • How can we measure the health, outcomes and impact of community literacy?
    • How do communities document the positive impact they’re having on adult education and family literacy, and workforce and economic development? What data do they collect and how do they use them to show their success?
    • How do providers demonstrate to prospective or current business partners the return-on-investment businesses want to see as a result of their involvement in adult education?
    • How can we measure the effect of community literacy on a community?
    • What do we mean by accountability to learners and their communities and how can we build this accountability into community literacy work?
    • Given the increasing pressure to demonstrate outcomes, how do we convince funders to support intermediary organizations that foster collaborations to address community literacy?
    • What do we know about community literacy from research?
  4. What is the relationship of community literacy to workforce literacy, workforce development, "healthy communities" initiatives and transition to higher education?
  5. What is the role of technology in community literacy?
  6. How can literacy organizations work together to make literacy a top community priority?
  7. What sort of training will best prepare community literacy coalitions to address community power dynamics, e.g. issues of racism, ethnocentrism?

David J. Rosen

Special Topics Discussion List Moderator
djrosen at

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