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Aug 23, 2022 |

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) is proud to announce that two staff members have been selected for the Equity Lab's transformative Nexus Fellowship. Leslie Wilson and Cindy Baumert join the 2022-23 cohort of the prestigious fellowship, comprised of 16 individuals representing eight organizations from across the U.S. They join a growing national network of non-profit, philanthropic, corporate, and civic leaders looking to address race and equity issues in their communities.

Having two staff members participate in the Nexus Fellowship reflects NCFL's commitment to building equitable and inclusive learning spaces that prioritize the voices of families furthest from opportunity.

“We need more agents of change if we are going to interrupt the systemic racial inequities that permeate our laws, policies, and organizational practices,” says Michelle Molitor, founder and executive director of The Equity Lab. “We are thrilled to support this group of courageous, bold leaders from around the country who seek to steer their organizations—and our country—toward a more equitable future.”

The Nexus Fellowship is a year-long personalized leadership program that prioritizes equity, deliberately combining the best in leadership, equity, and management training. In addition to four week-long residencies, Fellows receive dedicated coaching, a virtual learning community, and resources to help drive transformational change in themselves, their organizations, and their communities.

Congrats to NCFL staff Cindy Baumert and Leslie Wilson for being selected for the 2022-23 Nexus Fellowship!

As a Senior Training Specialist at NCFL, Leslie Wilson primarily provides technical support and professional development to the Family and Child Education (FACE) program, a initiative funded by the Bureau of Indian Education that supports American Indian families. She also lends her expertise in early childhood education to support a variety of NCFL Family Literacy and Family Learning programs. Leslie brings over 23 years of education experience in early childhood education and family engagement to NCFL. She has taught and worked with learners of all ages and their families both domestically and internationally. She holds a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, and an administrator certification.

As NCFL's Manager of Seed Projects, Cindy Baumert supports various family leadership and community engagement initiatives. She brings a strong background in family and community engagement as the former director of a statewide parent leadership program in Kentucky and the co-author of The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle: Recommendations for Involving Families and Community in Improving Student Achievement, a report commissioned by the Kentucky Department of Education. Cindy has 20 years’ experience as an education policy advocate at the local, state, and national level for students who have learning disabilities and students who receive free and reduced-price meals, and their families. Prior to her career in education advocacy, she owned a software development company and was an IBM marketing representative. Cindy holds a Master's in Engineering from the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School.

The Fellowship pushes leaders and organizations beyond the conversation of racial equity and into the work of sustaining racial equity in practice. Participants and their organizations receive expert training in four key areas: self, adaptive leadership, technical leadership, and the equityXdesign process. Fellows had to demonstrate support and commitment from their organizational leadership at the highest levels to be selected for the fellowship.

NCFL congratulates Leslie and Cindy!

For more information about the Nexus Fellowship and the Equity Lab, visit


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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