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Aug 27, 2019 |
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Just in time for the beginning of a new school year, Wonderopolis®, an award-winning website that cultivates student curiosity, is adding a powerful new tool—Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.

Microsoft today announced that Wonderopolis, a digital property of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), is the first nonprofit entity to feature the new technology, which works to expand content accessibility through a variety of reading assistance features.

With the help of Immersive Reader, Wonderopolis’ content will now be translatable into more than 40 languages via text and text-to-speech. Additional features of Immersive Reader include language-specific accents, line focusing, text resizing, syllable breakdown, parts of speech identification, and a picture dictionary. Moving forward, these technologies will increase accessibility for Wonderopolis users with visual impairments, reading disabilities, and English language learners.

“For two years, I’ve dreamed of making Wonderopolis more accessible for all readers and English language learners,” said Wonderopolis Community Manager John MacLeod. “But there wasn’t a great solution for a nonprofit--until now. Microsoft’s Immersive Reader puts Wonderopolis into the hands of truly everybody and provides the tools to include all learners in wondering and learning together.  

Created by NCFL in 2010, Wonderopolis has grown to become one of the most popular education sites in the world, boasting more than 2,000 unique Wonders of the Day and over 50 million visitors since its debut. With multi-disciplinary content that aligns to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, teachers everywhere use Wonderopolis’ daily Wonders to jumpstart their students' critical thinking. With the addition of Immersive Reader, the number of users is expected to continue to grow.

“The Immersive Reader feature will allow all students in a diverse classroom setting to have access to the extensive Wonderopolis content,” said Lorie Lyon, a 5th grade teacher in Plano, Texas. “This feature will open up doors to support literacy development while still giving students choice in their learning.”

“The Immersive Reader feature really is a game changer,” added Christie Wyman, a kindergarten teacher in Weston, Massachusetts. “My students will now be able to independently access all that Wonderopolis has to offer.”

The Immersive Reader technology is the latest result in a growing relationship between Wonderopolis and Microsoft. In June, Wonderopolis announced a new partnership with Microsoft’s Flipgrid, a website that allows teachers to create “grids” in order to facilitate video discussions. Flipgrid is used by millions of students, educators, and families in over 180 countries around the world.

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NCFL Partners

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Toyota

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.

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