"Grit, Grace, and Gratitude: A 30-Year Journey" shares how one woman’s desire to teach adults to read turned into a nationwide movement to lift families out of poverty. Published in November 2019, the book shares the important and inspiring story of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL).
Throughout this month, NCFL is sharing excerpts from "Grit, Grace, and Gratitude." In this passage, NCFL’s president and founder, Sharon Darling, recounts some of the challenges both her organization and the families it fosters have faced over the course of three decades. Through it all, the mission of NCFL has remained the same.
"While I always strived to find new and better ways to support families—and families were my motivation—I was frequently uncertain of the right steps to take, which ideas to nurture and research, and which to let go.
It takes courage to try something new—something you are not even sure you can do. It takes grit and determination, and I had to muster that up. There were times we accomplished tasks and I’m not quite sure how we did it—perhaps by the grace of some higher power.
The same is true for families—families who do the work, who draw on their own unique talents and experiences and move forward. The same for the parents who find the courage to overcome fear every day and step one foot in front of another into a family literacy adult classroom; and also for those who gain self-confidence with every milestone and move up to the next rung of the ladder.
It takes grit for them too.
While NCFL has had generous funders, the path forward was not always certain. And through it all, NCFL has not necessarily been lucky, either; but we have been authentic. We’ve stayed true to the mission and we’ve not chased the shiny new penny. Whether it’s the education program du jour, the next wave of reform, or funders shifting priorities—we at NCFL have embraced the real mission of the organization. We know what has made a difference and will continue to make a difference in the trajectory of millions of families’ lives.
While at times I may have been uncertain about the right path to take, I always knew this—I was certain of the mission."
For 30 years, NCFL’s mission has remained steadfast—to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. Engaging multiple generations from the same family has always been a fundamental and distinguishing aspect of our work; we know this holistic approach creates a stronger impact and greater success for families.