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Dec 8, 2022 |
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Spanning three months and three different programs, the 2022 Families Learning Conference tripled the learning as attendees gathered virtually in October, met in Nashville during November, and descended on Phoenix in December! Whether they registered for one event or managed to squeeze in two or three, participants had a vast array of workshops to experience, speakers to learn from, and fellow attendees to network with. 

NCFL president, Felicia Cumings Smith, speaks at the Nashville Regional Meetup.
NCFL president, Felicia Cumings Smith,
speaks at the Nashville Regional Meetup.

Attendees representing nearly 40 states, Washington, DC, Canada, and Wales joined the conference this year. Feedback of the virtual event held October 25-26 tells us that attendees appreciated that all concurrent presentations were held in Zoom, which allowed for more interaction and engagement among participants. They also were glad to know that presentation recordings are available to watch for 90 days after the event.

The conference was kicked off by keynote speaker Candy Magaña, MPA, director of Health Equity Advancement, Innovation, and Training at Humana, who demonstrated how health equity and education intersect, and the importance of investing in the well-being of the whole person to make equitable changes. PNC Grow Up Great® and the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health joined us on October 25th to share how the TMW Center’s 3Ts—Tune In, Talk More, and Take Turns—is a powerful tool to make everyday conversations valuable learning experiences for children. 

Keynote speaker Sharlonda Buckman-Davis, author of The Ardent Advocate and assistant superintendent of Family and Community Engagement for Detroit Public Schools, started October 26th with a powerful keynote centered on the question: “And so, how are the children?” Attendees competed to win a copy of her book by playing the virtual platform game, and the top 10 players received The Ardent Advocate in the mail! Long-time NCFL partner, Toyota, was in attendance to reveal the 2022 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year, Ivonne Ortiz of Mesa, Arizona and the runner-up, Dae Selcer of Columbia Heights, Minnesota.

Early math was explored during the Heising-Simons Foundation’s featured session on co-design and making math more fun for parents and children alike. To close out two thought-provoking days of virtual learning and connection, the Kentucky Student Voice Team highlighted the critical need for students’ voices to be heard in the process of making educational decisions and demonstrated the impact their work has made nationally. 

Attendee surprised by winning a Dollar General mini grant
Attendee surprised by winning a Dollar General Literacy Foundation mini-grant.

The next stop on the #NCFL22 tour was Nashville, Tennessee, as educators, librarians, parent leaders, and family-facing staff met in person on November 4th. In addition to a day of learning, connection, and networking, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation surprised attendees with mini-grants! 

Phoenix regional opening session.
Phoenix Regional Meetup opening session.

Finally, the 2022 Families Learning Conference wrapped up with one final stop in Phoenix, Arizona on December 2nd, where Ivonne Ortiz received the crystal apple award for being named Toyota Family Teacher of the Year. Ivonne wasn't the only one to receive something special, though. Thanks to Toyota, each Phoenix attendee received a school supply kit to support a 24-student classroom! Learn more about Toyota's generous donation.

We were also thrilled to learn from a panel of parenting adults who participate in NCFL's family leadership program. They dove into best practices and lessons learned when it comes to activating parent leaders and the impact they make for their community. 

While our Regional Meetups had different offerings for attendees to engage in, a few presentations were offered at both locations! Zeno Math and MathTalk held hands-on sessions where attendees explored the fun of family math. The National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) hosted an in-depth walkthrough of the Family Engagement Core Competencies and the evidence-based tools that make a real difference in family engagement. NCFL staff also presented best practices in family literacy, family engagement, and family leadership, and our partners demonstrated how these pathways show up in their communities.

For 2023, we’re excited to host an in-person conference in Omaha, Nebraska, from October 23-25. To learn more about the 2023 conference and registration, subscribe to NCFL’s monthly newsletter: We hope to see you next October!


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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