As a country and world, we are living through unprecedented times. We know families everywhere have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis. Even in the midst of so much sorrow, there are programs and families across the country finding innovative and exciting ways to learn. The purpose of this page is to inspire others with ideas to serve families where they are by highlighting our partners' best practices. The opportunity to educate continues. We are all in this together.

The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center created a weekly series of Educator and Family “Conversation Cafes” every Thursday and Friday to foster connections and virtual share sessions during school closures in April and May. These conversations allow educators and families to discuss how they are dealing with different aspects of COVID-19, and are creating a safe space for educators and families to have frank conversations while being supported by their peers. The Statewide Family Engagement Center began hosting a virtual chat for Spanish-speaking families as well.

Rachel Riggs, an ESL instructor at FCC, has been leading lots of virtual PACT Time® activities with her family literacy class during quarantine. While she has led some of the classes in a storytime format, others have been led by mothers or guests, who have volunteered to lead activities such as music lessons. Classes have taken place on Zoom or streamed live on Instagram or Facebook. In the picture to the left, Rachel’s class joined together on Zoom and watched a storytime that was uploaded to YouTube by her program’s Bookmobile librarian. She said it was wonderful for the kids to see a familiar face and sing some of their favorite songs from storytime.

The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center also created a “COVID-19 Home Learning Daily Digest” of fun home learning activities and easy-to-use resources to support students’ learning. This short guide highlights quick and easy activities and free resources that families can use to engage their children in learning while they are home. The Daily Digests include virtual tours, ways to celebrate the day, physical activity ideas, online learning opportunities for students, and links to resources for parents and caregivers.

During the summer, families can look forward to the Weekly Digest, a full week’s worth of activities and resources to support home learning. Each week has a theme with fun activities, including math, reading, science, writing, and more! There is also the “Amazing World Tour” featuring different countries for students and families to learn together about the culture, geography and food. Click here to sign up for the Weekly Digest and find archived Digests.


Watch the videos above to see how partners such as Literacy AchievesAMPED, and To’Hajiilee Community School are finding new ways to learn through activities at home and via digital connection.

At Aspire in Dallas, parents are using daily tasks to enhance their children's learning. It's never too early to work on life skills! Families are also demonstrating that physical distancing does not stop socializing. Celebrations continue via WhatsApp, as the youngest learners send birthday greetings to one another and mothers share gender reveals. 

Speaking of digital connection, parents at Arizona State University PBS participated in a video conference via Zoom (left), while parents at Peralta Elementary, an Arizona Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) site, also participated in a Parent Time Zoom call with their site coordinator and school principal last month.

NCFL’s Family and Child Education (FACE) team has been creating collaborative spaces using Zoom as well, where teachers from FACE program sites can connect, share ideas, and ask questions. Called “FACE to Face Collaboration Time,” the first virtual meeting brought preschool teachers together with adult education teachers before allowing the groups to split into separate calls moving forward. NCFL’s team follows the lead of teachers, who determine the topics for conversation, such as active learning ideas for parents of preschoolers. 

The Dunseith Elementary FACE program in North Dakota is using Facebook to share daily instructional videos and maintain interpersonal contact. Staff are also hosting Zoom meetings with parents who have the appropriate technology and sharing online links to commonly used learning videos from YouTube. Click the adjacent photo to learn more.

We are encouraged and inspired by these programs and families who are striving to make the best out of a very difficult situation. We wish all of our partners and sites good health and the perseverance and strength to continue on. 

NCFL Partners

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Toyota Family Learning Program

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, they invested in the organization’s 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 reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

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 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

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

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

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Learn more about the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University