Scholarships Available

The 12-Credit Penn State World Campus post-baccalaureate Family Literacy Certificate was developed through a partnership between the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State and the National Center for Families Learning. The primary goal of the Certificate is to provide students with an opportunity to enhance their knowledge, skills, and credentials in the discipline of family literacy, with a focus on effective program planning and implementation and research-based practice.     

The Family Literacy Certificate is designed to help students understand the key components of family literacy (an intergenerational approach to learning) including:

  • How to understand children’s language and literacy development and support academic success.
  • How the role of the adult education relates to adult learners’ needs and their roles as caregivers, workers, and community members.
  • How to strengthen and enhance parents’ knowledge of their roles and responsibilities as their children’s first teachers. 
  • How to engage in interactive literacy activities with children and how to engage with schools and teachers.

For additional information, please contact Beth McLean at or by phone at 717-432-3498.  For more information about the World Campus Family Literacy certificate, click here. For more information about applying contact World Campus admissions click here, or call a World Campus Admissions counselor at 800-252-3592 (toll free). 

Admission Requirements

  1. An applicant must have received, from an accredited institution, a baccalaureate degree substantially equivalent to one awarded by Penn State.
  2. The Graduate School reviews the application for academic admissibility and the certificate program determines acceptance into its program. An admission letter from the Graduate School does not guarantee admission into a certificate program.

Courses included in the Certificate

ADTED 456: Introduction to Family Literacy (3 credits). This course explores the concept of family literacy and how it can contribute to both the literacy growth of the parent (caregiver), children and other family members. This course introduces family literacy concepts, models, and components to support families including adult, child, and parent education; interactive literacy activities, and case management. The course also attends to issues such as racial/ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity among families; program improvement; and professional development. This course is offered during the fall semester. 

ADTED 457: Adult Literacy (3 credits). This course explores adult literacy research, theory, programming, and instructional practices in the context of family literacy. The course examines the role of adult education as it pertains to adult learners’ needs and their roles as parents, workers, and community members. This course is offered each summer.

ADTED 458: Early Literacy Development (3 credits). This course focuses on young children's language and literacy development, including ways that parents and staff support this development; research related to children's language and literacy learning; and ways in which family literacy supports early literacy development. This course is offered during the fall.

ADTED 459: Interactive Literacy and Parent Involvement: Supporting Academic Success (3 credits). This course focuses on how parents and other caregivers actively engage in home- and school-based activities to support children's language and literacy development and academic success. The course addresses parental involvement in education, educator and parent perspectives of what parent engagement means, interactive parent-child literacy activities, and some of the sociocultural issues that are implicated in family engagement in language and literacy development. This course is offered during the spring semester.

Adult Basic Education Certificate

Individuals interested in working with adults or out-of-school youth who struggle with reading, writing, numeracy, and/or English language proficiency may consider the online post-baccalaureate Adult Basic Education Certificate (12 credits). Learn more here.

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