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Oct 19, 2020 |
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Amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, the world evolves faster than ever before. Though humankind has always tended toward progress, our modern-day developments have fast-tracked this rate of change, promising accelerated evolution as we venture further into the future. 

As a new decade unfolds, experts predict that we will continue to see a greater degree of technological convergence; our new and recent technologies will come together to form networks of higher function like never before. Just look at a “smart home”: thermostats, home security systems, and cameras are synced together and controlled via smartphone. This Internet of Things (IoT) will evolve and connect in ways we can only presently imagine.

These evolutions are not limited to the household, of course; every industry on the globe will be affected by converging technology in the years to come. At the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), we know this applies to education, too. That’s why we are seeking out new partners and experts with knowledge and skillsets to help our network of families and partners be positioned to thrive well into the future. We are working with a strategic advisor—Marcus Shingles—who specializes in innovation and exponential digital transformation, organizational change, and emerging and disruptive technology; he also formerly served as CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation. Additionally, we are working with development companies like Talespin and Spatial to advocate for families to ensure that their technology offerings are relevant, accessible, safe, and scalable to families living in poverty.

During COVID-19, we’ve all experienced firsthand what research backs up: it taxes the brain to learn and collaborate via video platforms (Sklar, 2020). It has even found a name in “Zoom Fatigue.” It is clear that families will need more and better tools to effectively learn in the age of COVID-19 and likely, beyond the pandemic’s lifecycle. Fortunately, studies show that fully immersive learning that utilizes Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) demonstrate superior and more efficient learning retention by users (PwC, 2020). This is one area in which we are seeking to test and evaluate new learning methods, among others.

As we have done for the past three decades, we intend to continue innovating within our field as the future takes shape. Over the next six months, we will be publishing a series of blog posts about our own findings so that we can all learn together. We will also publish posts authored by leading technology, education, and research experts across the country on important topics as they relate to our network regarding artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, and digital equity, to name a few.

The intersections at which technologies merge are multiplying faster than ever before, giving rise to limitless possibilities in the days to come. We hope you'll join us as we learn more about the technological frontiers that await us.



PwC (2020). The effectiveness of virtual reality soft skills training in the enterprise. Retrieved October 5, 2020 from

Sklar, J. (2020, April 24). ‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. National Geographic.


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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