- 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.”
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.