Blog categories
Apr 2, 2019 |
  No Comments

According to a 2014 article by John Traugott, 76 percent of people who wrote down their goals and shared them with someone were successful. In comparison, only 43 percent of those who didn’t write out or share their goals succeeded.

Studies like this are one reason NCFL uses goal-setting in its programming. Learners and practitioners work as a team to accomplish tasks leading to obtainment of a goal. Goal-setting is also a way to self-monitor progress—which increases self-efficacy.

Whether we’re looking at the Financial Fitness program or Healthy Family Habits, they all begin with a desire to do something—improve an aspect of one’s life. And, when it comes to literacy, the Cultivating Readers program can do just that.

Creating goals is hard work. Targeting a specific outcome can be difficult and sometimes frustrating—are we asking enough of ourselves? Not enough? Many of us have heard of SMART Goals. Keeping our sights set on reaching Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based goals is important. If we create goals that are too broad or not measurable, how will we know when we’ve attained them?

A sample SMART goal for including literacy-based content at home might look like:

'We will read with our child for ten minutes after dinner for five out of seven nights per week over the period of one month and will track by placing a + (plus) on the calendar for a night we read and a – (minus) on the calendar for nights we did not read.'

     Specific: We will read with our child for ten minutes after dinner

     Measurable: Track on calendar with a + (plus) for night read and a – (minus) for no reading

     Attainable: Five out of seven nights per week

     Realistic: Yes—not expecting 100 percent compliance

     Time-based: Over the next month

In the classroom, nothing is more effective than having student buy-in for goals. Even when the goals are lengthy or multi-step, using student goal-setting with SMART Goals increases student drive to complete the tasks necessary to obtain the goal. A student may have a long-term goal of completing two credits of English in a school year, but that is a huge goal and should be broken down into bite-sized chunks, so learners can see—and celebrate—their accomplishments. An intermediary objective to meet that goal would be: I will receive a grade of C or above on every English assignment for the next marking period. This ‘mini-goal’ meets SMART Goal criteria and leads toward bigger picture success.

The celebration of meeting a goal is almost as essential as the goal itself. Learners celebrate in different ways and play an important role in planning a reward for their successes. Some learners don’t need tangible tokens—they’re comfortable with intrinsic rewards. Others require a small item to feel their progress is happening. These extrinsic rewards should match their task—keep bite-sized accomplishments worth something of less value than reaching the over-arching goal.

How do you motivate learners? How do you use goal-setting in your environment? Let us know in the comments! 


Leave A Comment

NCFL Partners

NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image


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