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Oct 10, 2018 |
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They came from 45 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Colombia. From September 24-26, 2018, over 700 education professionals descended upon Fort Lauderdale for the 2018 Families Learning Conference. The shared goal? Helping families get out of poverty through education solutions. This multi-sector convening brought together educators, social service providers, librarians, policymakers, and funders with the focus of sharing resources, strategies, and tools to use in communities and with families everywhere.

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The Conference kicked off with an energetic keynote by Dr. Sharroky Hollie, who shared how cultural responsiveness can be used to increase family engagement, address inequities, and give outrageous love to those we serve.

On Monday, attendees enjoyed coffee and sweet treats with GED Testing Service®’s CEO Randy Trask, who fielded questions pertaining to adult education and the GED®, both from the audience and on Twitter. Later, the PNC Grow Up Great® Welcome Reception featured resources in early childhood education by PNC partners, in addition to beautiful ocean views. Monday ended on the topic of digital skills with Google, when attendees got a sneak peek of CS First and Applied Digital Skills--both explored in greater detail Tuesday.

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Tuesday began with a powerful, somber keynote by Stanley Holder, who spoke about the challenges of building the Acoma education system for Native Americans; about healing the wounds of the community; and how family and early childhood learning are keys to establishing a generational pattern and expectation of success.

NCFL’s signature Conference event, the Banquet Celebration, included an inspiring keynote by Brad Meltzer, best-selling author and television host, who stressed that ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact on many lives without even knowing it. He reminded the audience to say Thank You to those who have helped us along the way, and through everyday actions, pay it forward and leave a legacy of impact on others.

Wednesday didn’t fail to send off attendees fully galvanized. The morning began with their choosing between two in-depth, thought-provoking sessions, “Creating More Inclusive Spaces: Our Roles as Institutional Actors” and “Moving From ‘Surviving to Thriving’: Trauma Attuned Transformation Using the Nurtured Heart Approach©,” both of which took aim at uncomfortable, but necessary, topics. “Creating More Inclusive Spaces” addressed institutional racism and how we can become aware of and move past implicit bias in our interactions and work with others.

“Moving from ‘Surviving to Thriving’” explored a technique to help teachers who work with students suffering from complex trauma. Attendees learned methods to de-escalate situations and help students to identify triggers and employ strategies to calm themselves.

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The Conference ended with brunch and a closing keynote by Tom Vander Ark, who spoke on the topic of how artificial intelligence is shaping our world, and the emerging literacies and skills students need to hone to succeed in our future economy.

NCFL President and Founder, Sharon Darling closed the Conference with the announcement that our 2019 Conference, and 30th anniversary celebration, will be held in Louisville, Kentucky November 4-6, 2019. Two lucky winners had their names drawn for free registrations to attend.

By now, the passionate, tireless attendees we shared three days with have gone home to their schools and programs. We hope they will share what they gained from the 2018 Families Learning Conference with those around them, amplifying the benefit to families and communities.

Did you attend #NCFL18? Please share your favorite moments in the comments below!


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NCFL Partners

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Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great

U.S. Department of Education

Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

Foundation Website