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Dec 14, 2015 |
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by Sharon Darling
This year the National Center for Families Learning celebrates a 25-year partnership with the Bureau of Indian Education to provide the Family and Child Education (FACE) program alongside Parents as Teachers (PAT). Working with these organizations has been an incredible experience—one that continues to empower current and future generations of American Indian families through education and learning together. IMG_2054 And, what is left to say about Bill Mehojah’s commitment to family literacy? Bill’s intense passion for FACE has never wavered and continues even in his retirement years. I am so grateful for his visionary leadership and partnership, and thrilled to see his legacy honored in celebrations such as the FACE ceremonies held at the PAT conference last month. NCFL’s center-based family literacy services for FACE, which have benefited 17,000 families in American Indian schools, actually have roots in Appalachia. When I first met with Bill I was convinced that the family literacy programs NCFL was leading in Kentucky could make a dramatic difference in American Indian communities. The videos I brought to that meeting in 1989 of parents and children going to school together in rural Kentucky resonated so strongly with Bill. FACE was born very soon thereafter, and I soon realized we’d need to adapt NCFL’s family literacy model to reach FACE families in a culturally appropriate way. Our first insight on this was spurred by one of my initial visits to an American Indian school. As I watched a three-year-old girl pretend to read to her doll nestled in a traditional American Indian cradle board, I knew we would need to add an important facet to our two-generation, four-component family literacy model. We integrated culturally appropriate programming and training that continues to this day. I firmly believe it is a critical factor in FACE’s progress. While FACE’s evaluation results are clear indicators of the program’s success, the stories of individual families are most powerful. One of the first FACE adult students comes to mind. Today she has a degree in Early Childhood Education—and her daughter has followed in her footsteps with a degree of her own. We also celebrate our partnership with Parents as Teachers with this milestone. It’s remarkable and uncommon to see two national organizations collaborate as closely as we have to provide a seamless system for parents and children for so many years. NCFL is honored to have been a part of the lives of thousands of FACE families and thankful for the support and efforts of our partners. The past 25 years provide such a strong foundation for the future of families learning together, and influenced much of NCFL’s work along the way. The future remains bright for FACE; here’s to the road ahead. This post is the first of a two-part reflection on 25 years of the FACE program. Sharon Darling, NCFL’s president and founder, started FACE with the Bureau of Indian Education, Bill Mehojah, and Parents as Teachers in 1990.


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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