We are excited to announce that we will be awarding FIVE mini grants worth $100 each to ILA members interested in attending the IAACE conference on April 25th to the 27th in French Lick. The mini-grants will be awarded based on the completion of the short application located at the bottom of the page.
Eligibility requirements and additional details are as follows:
The ILA Board of Directors is working hard to make sure there are many presentations that ILA members will find valuable. We currently have ILA members presenting on how to make literacy "cool", a poverty overview discussing how poverty impacts our students, how to decode skills for beginning readers, writing courses, interactive panels to discuss fundraising and volunteer/student recruitment and retention. and more.
We realize how very difficult it is for literacy programs to find the funds to attend professional development opportunities and we know how important these opportunities are for our shared purpose of advancing adult literacy. Please take advantage of this opportunity and join us in April at the IAACE conference!
Click here to visit the IAACE Conference page.
Download the application here (to apply electronically click the button below).
By Amber Harris, guest blogger
When it comes to literacy, it might seem to the casual observer that the United States as a whole is doing well, especially for people living in urban areas. The numbers, however, tell a different story: a story of a literacy crisis, even in big cities. New York City is home to 6.4 million working age adults, but 2.2 million of these adults do not have a high school diploma or English proficiency, reducing their ability to make a living wage and lead a fulfilling life in the United States. 50% of adults who do not have a high school diploma read at below a basic level, and 44 million American parents are not able to read their children a story.
Funding has been cut from many literacy programs, leaving millions of people in need without any means to improve their literacy. So how do we address this crisis? By getting innovative. Here are just a few ways to gain funding for literacy programs that may require a little creativity, but can help those struggling find new hope.
Just because public funding may be disappearing from many literacy programs, that doesn’t mean that citizens can’t direct their dollars toward literacy using digital crowdfunding. Though most commonly used to sell a product for profit, it can also be used for social programs like literacy efforts. In fact, about 10.7 million was raised for civic projects between 2010 and 2013. One example of this in action is the Alpha-Mania Storybooks crowdfunding campaign, which was created to fund both printed books and e-books for early childhood literacy skills. Supporters received copies of the books, and the intent was to eventually distribute materials digitally at a low cost, allowing more children and educators to benefit.
Many corporations are now beginning to add sponsorships for social programs into their business plans, and tend to support programs that their leaders feel strongly about, or issues that have close ties with the company’s mission. Barnes & Noble is one company that funds nonprofits promoting literacy, but there are other sponsorship opportunities available that can provide much-needed funding.
Money from grants has always been in high demand, but that doesn’t mean grants are not worth pursuing. The Department of Education offers millions in specialized grants, including funding for “Innovative Approaches to Literacy”, while many private organizations offer smaller grants and contests to help fund educational programs.
4. Digital Solutions
Struggling with a rampant literacy issue, Philadelphia met all the challenges head on—by harnessing the power of technology. Investing in digital solutions, the city government used data that detailed what was and wasn’t working to create a free, interactive learning system for adult literacy. In-person classes and small groups coached by volunteers resulted in over 3,000 adults completing their basic literacy training or earning their GEDs in 2015. It’s the creativity and hard work of many that leads to successful literacy programs like Philadelphia’s—and these programs show that innovation can make a big difference.
Check out the infographic below, created by the University of Cincinnati’s Online Master of Education program, which presents the literacy rates in the U.S. Click here to view the original inforgraphic along with additional information about literacy rates in the U.S.
By Laura Priebe, Literacy Administrator, Hoosier Hills Literacy League
How do you recognize your volunteers? Some organizations have a volunteer appreciation dinner, others give gifts, but if your budget is limited, here’s an option for your organization that requires just the cost of nice paper and color printing.
The idea came from a session that I attended at the ProLiteracy Conference in Minneapolis. The title caught my eye – “More than a Gift Card – Low and No Cost Ways to Recognize Volunteers.” Minnesota has a huge volunteer literacy organization, as their state funding mandates that a certain percentage of the literacy work is done by volunteers. As a result, their state literacy organization is very plugged into the local community organizations. The idea is simple, a customizable recognition certificate issued by the state literacy organization. Local organizations can use it as they please. One volunteer may be the best event planner you can dream of. Another might put in hours in the office. Another might be a dedicated tutor. All of these people help make your organization run smoothly, and without them, you would be lost.
Because the Indiana Literacy Association recognizes that the work of ADVANCING INDIANA THROUGH LITERACY is done at a grassroots level, we want to help you recognize those who are helping you do the work. ILA has created the attached certificate (below). If you use Microsoft Publisher, you can easily customize it to recognize as many of your volunteers as you wish. We’d love it if you found something to celebrate in ALL of your volunteers. If you don’t have Publisher, use Photoshop, or just a nice pen. Celebrate those volunteers, and let the ILA help you!
- A Pro Literacy conference update by Laura Priebe, Literacy Administrator, Hoosier Hills Literacy League
Originally published on the Hoosier Hills Literacy League website
The first day was a Pre-Conference on Volunteer Management, presented by the Minnesota Literacy Council. Minnesota uses hundreds of volunteers to address the problem of literacy, which, by the way, is the world’s largest solvable social ill. So, needless to say, they have a lot to say about managing volunteers!
It’s commonly assumed that volunteerism is not as common today as it once was. “Those Millennials” just don’t want to volunteer…well, I discovered that this is a misconception. There are only slightly fewer volunteers today than there have been in years past, but the type of volunteer has changed. Click here to read more about current volunteer opportunities for HHLL – from arm chair volunteering, also known as “slactivism,” to short term projects, to helping set the course of the future of the HHLL – there’re lots of ways to help!
This word means so many different things to people than it did in years past. Community used to be synonymous with neighborhood. Now we talk of on-line communities, a concept that removes the barriers of geography, but with different limitations. Community can also refer to the feeling of connection you achieve when you gather around a common goal. A physical place, such as a classroom, office or workplace can promote community, and many free-standing literacy organizations consciously seek to build a “community of learners,” where adult students can feel supported and connected to others who have similar goals and struggles.
HHLL does not have a permanent public area in which students and tutors regularly gather. We are grateful for the community organizations that host our programs and office (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU LPL, Ivy Tech and ARCC!). That doesn’t mean we cannot build community among our tutors and learners, however – we just have to be creative! This blog is a part of that effort (comment comment, comment!) and we also now have an Adult Literacy Class Facebook group, and we plan to have regular tutor gatherings. I have realized that I personally have a need to feel more connected to others involved in local literacy efforts, so I will be reaching out to “build community” with those that are already involved as well as with those who might like to join us.
The Barbara Bush Foundation launched the XPrize to invite edtech companies and entrepreneurs to develop technology specifically for adult learners. Three of the 8 semi-finalists were present at the conference, and I got a good look at their products. One product, an app / on-line game called Learning Upgrade, is free to 30 of our students for the rest of 2017. Xenos Isle is another, and Cell-Ed are the others. (Click on those to check out the demos!) Depending on learner response, we will likely seek funding to launch one of those learning platforms sometime in 2018. In addition, I will be reviewing and gathering several free resources into a “Learner Resources” tab on our homepage. Technology also extends to tutor training /professional development, so I will also add another tab to our homepage labelled “Tutor Resources.”
This month we're asking YOU to share! September is a huge month for literacy. Last week was International Literacy Day and just around the corner is Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week. The National Coaltion for Literacy (NCL) created this week to raise awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy. We hope that you will make the most of this opportunity and set aside some time to plan how your organization will recognize AEFL Week. The NCL and Pro Literacy have created many excellent resources to help you promote the importance of literacy. Here are a few links to get you started:
All current ILA members are invited to the 2017 ILA Annual Meeting. Your attendance will be highly appreciated. The meeting will be held online via a GoTo Meeting on Friday, September 29th at 1:30pm EST
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest convenience. The GoTo Meeting link will be sent out a week before the meeting.
Among the topics we will be discussing is amending four of our bylaws which have been emailed to all members.
We will be sending an agenda prior to the meeting, which will also be available via our website.
If you are interested in becoming a member please visit our Membership/Contact page.
Last month we asked you for ideas and suggestions on how you find and recruit new volunteers. Here are some of the suggestions we received. Please continue to let us know how you are doing in your efforts to recruit volunteers!
1. Donate adult books with a bookplate/inscription for the literacy program/volunteer, to the public library.
2. Place upcoming tutor trainings in the events column of your local newspapers.
3. Put up a display at the local farmers market.
4. Have “a general interest workshop” (i.e. birdhouse building) and recruit volunteers from among the participants.
5. Set up an information table at the mall.
6. Enlist the support of the mayor and council members.
7. Place a ‘Thank You” advertisement in the local newspaper’s volunteer section.
8. Rent a portable sign and have it placed on a major intersection.
9. Advertise in the newsletters of local retirement communities.
10. Place help wanted ads at the local community college.
11. Participate in college job fairs.
12. Blend traditional face-to-face workshops with online opportunities so that ongoing training is available to volunteers without overtaxing staff.
13. Distribute flyers at major bookstores.
14. Design a special tutor recruitment insert to be added to the city water bills one month.
15. Advertise in your city’s community calendar e-mails.
16. Partner with a 4-H group to provide literacy information and training to its members or with older Girl Scouts.
Sources: Florida Literacy Coalition, Community Literacy of Ontario, The ABCs of Volunteer Recruitment, ProLiteracy, Reducing Waiting Lists.
Our original blog post "How Do You Recruit Volunteers" also contains valuable suggestions on recruiting literacy volunteers. Re-read it here, and as always, feel free to contact us with comments.
As all adult literacy programs know, volunteers are the lifeblood to our programs. We use volunteers to tutor students, to assist in the office, to serve on boards, etc. But the challenge is always the same: where do we find more volunteers? This month we would love to hear some of the things that you do to find and recruit new volunteers. Here are a couple of examples to get you started.
We asked a few of our members to provide us with a comment or two about why they are members of the ILA. Here's what they had to say:
Bob Stephenson, The Literacy Coalition of Howard County and ILA President:
I joined ILA for the networking opportunities. In the 18 years I have been at the Literacy Coalition so many great people have mentored me and I love the opportunities to share ideas and experiences. My ILA membership gives me that opportunity and has helped me keep my program viable through good and bad times.
Dan Helms, Board Member:
I believe in the mission of literacy organizations, and in the need for the statewide leadership and coordination of adult literacy activities provided by the ILA.
Pat Griffin, Interlocal Association and ILA Board Member:
I was encouraged to join by Tom Miller who thought it would be good to expand membership to workforce development board staff to add a new perspective. I now have a better understanding of literacy programs and their significance in preparing people in getting jobs as well as higher educational attainment. I have met many compassionate instructors and directors, realizing the commonality of our professions.
Laura Priebe, Hoosier Hills Literacy League and ILA member:
Joining a state professional organization makes sense for a lot of reasons! As the sole employee of a small non-profit, I often feel like a one-woman show! Connecting with my colleagues across the state helps me exchange ideas and keeps my practice fresh. It’s great to compare notes on what works in different areas, and get ideas and encouragement to try new strategies. Besides the practical exchange of ideas, ILA membership reminds me that I am part of a team.
Cynthia (Cindy) Cates, Kosciusko Literacy Services and ILA member:
Kosciusko Literacy Services was a member of the Indiana Literacy Foundation. Before it was dissolved, I attended the conference and was impressed by the training session. KLS joined ILA to share best practices. Since each adult and family literacy agency is managed differently in the 92 counties, ILA remains a clearinghouse to share ideas, problems, and solutions.
Dawn Schmidt, Huntington County Literacy Coalition and ILA member:
ILA membership is valuable to us for all the networking that it can provide. Although we are a small literacy program it is good to be a part of a community of like minds, with shared goals and concerns. It is a good resource group.
Become an ILA Member today!
Our goal is to be THE voice for literacy programs and students in the State of Indiana. We strive to be the place that helps tell the stories, make the connections, offer the assistance that will allow our member organizations to grow and succeed. Your support will allow us to achieve these goals.
Individual/Literacy Organizations: $45
Visit our membership page to sign up or renew!
We asked our board members to provide us with a comment or two about the Literacy Strand at this year's IAACE conference. Here's what they had to say:
Jennifer Wigginton, Vice-President:
I loved hearing the input from all the participants in my online tutor training workshop. Check it out here. If you are a member of ILA and want full access, send email to email@example.com. We of course welcome input on improvement.
The other great thing I learned about is the http://learntoearntoolkit.org/. It is a free resource we are implementing!
Check out https://www.facebook.com/IndianaLiteracyAssociation/ page for a video feed of part of Tom Miller's presentation, Using Music and Pictures to Teach Reading and Writing. It includes some sample pictures within post. Superb!
If you didn't make it to my session, High Level Learning for Low Level Learners, Here is the handout: https://sites.google.com/litcenter.org/highlevellearning/home.
Mike Landram, Treasurer:
Dana Nelson’s session on “Grow Your Non-Profit’ with Email & Social Media provided new ideas for our organization in improving the effectiveness of our email content and tying our social media channels together.
* If you would like to hear from Dana and view her presentation slides let us know! We'll connect you with Dana.
Pat Griffin, Board Member:
- The literacy strand was a valuable resource and since a first time offering, if repeating in 2018, it should catch on fire, with higher participation by literacy providers. More sessions on literacy would spark more interest by those attending. Others in attendance learned about literacy programs, including training your tutors online, on literacy day.
- Denise Bissonnette provided a reminder of the importance of the unique skills of each person, and the importance of trying to utilize those in job development, as opposed to trying to fit someone who may not be a "natural fit" into an existing job.
Darcey Mitschelen, Board Member:
As a person new to the world of literacy, I am hungry for information. The "Training Your Tutors Online" offered much needed insight and guidance as did the "Less Talk, More Walk - Creating a Culture of Ethics and Accountability" session. Well, actually, all of the conference sessions were very helpful! But in the end, the most helpful was, and continues to be, the ability to have one-on-one casual conversations with expert practitioners and dedicated educators beyond the sessions. The relationships that were forged are of the deepest of value.
* Please feel free to share your comments with us via email or by posting your feedback in the comments section below.