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Sep 3, 2021 |
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The Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) Network is comprised of 12 Statewide Family Engagement Centers in 13 states across the country and works to advance family engagement partnerships to impact educational success.  It is led by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and the National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) and is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This guest blog post is authored by staff at Southwest Human Development, a partner of the Arizona SFEC.

Partnering to engage Arizona dads of young children

Southwest Human Development is partnering with the Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago and the Steve Nash Foundation, along with many incredible local partners to find and engage Arizona dads in the 3Ts Let’s Talk Dads program. One such partnership has been with the Arizona Statewide Family Engagement Center (led by NCFL) who has brought a diverse group of early childhood stakeholders together in support of two target school districts here in Maricopa County. It is through the partnerships within this grant that we have been able to spread the word about this program and leverage this as an additional service to meet the need in the community for families within these districts.   

The need for virtual family engagement

At the onset of the pandemic Southwest Human Development pivoted all programming to be delivered virtually in order to adhere to CDC health and safety guidelines. It was critical that these shifts were made as quickly as possible to preserve meaningful supports for families during an especially challenging and isolating time, while also ensuring that the quality of services were maintained. Specifically, due to a variety of factors, many fathers found themselves spending 24 hours a day at home with their young children, which created an even more urgent need to provide them critical information on neurodevelopment and strategies for supporting their very young children. 

A valuable experience for program participants and staff alike

Looking back across this past year, it has been such a valuable learning experience on how to deliver high-quality virtual programming. We have been able to adapt facilitation to a virtual environment utilizing group discussions via Zoom, curriculum videos modeling key strategies, and in between sessions, virtual or telephone coaching calls for participating dads. The pivot to virtual participation also removed potential barriers for participating dads such as travel time and getting home for evening routines, and ultimately has allowed us to connect fathers from all across Arizona within these virtual cohorts. Despite the pandemic, we have had fathers from Navajo Nation, Tucson, Flagstaff, Avondale, Phoenix, Mesa, Peoria, and Glendale able to connect together to engage in meaningful learning around the importance of early communication, language, and literacy. 

We have now delivered 12 cohorts virtually and are preparing to launch our 13th and 14th. While pilot data is still being actively collected by the university, father feedback continues to be extremely positive along with clear and consistent articulations of learning.

For more information, please reach out to the Senior Program Manager, Language and Literacy at Southwest Human Development, Meghan Storms, by emailing       


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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