Community Coalitions: A Strategy to Scale Family Literacy

Have you asked….

How do we broaden services for families in our program? or How do we create sustainable partnerships with other agencies?

Have you said….

I wish more people in our community, region or nation knew about and helped multiply the positive outcomes we are seeing achieved by our families in literacy programs?

What if…

You were part of a network that facilitated professional development, shared resources, marketing, created opportunities to develop new partnerships, and positioned your community to compete for outside funding? - A Literacy Coalition!

What is a Literacy Coalition?

A coalition is at once a distinct organization AND a collective of many organizations and stakeholders. It is both the lead organization AND its membership. The coalition's work is to act on behalf of the collective. Primary tasks for literacy coalitions are to facilitate change and track improvement in literacy in the community as a whole (Hatry & Morely, The Urban Institute, 2008).

It places improved learner outcomes at the center of its mission and its strategic decisions. Imagine a "pebble in the pond" model with learners at the center, service delivery providers surrounding them; with supports for effective service provision and the many at large community partners working to support increased literacy levels.

Who is part of a Literacy Coalition?

A broad range of community stakeholders who care about improving educational outcomes children, families and adults such as:

  • Community based organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Child care providers
  • Civic organizations
  • Correctional institutions
  • State adult education partners
  • Adult learners
  • The business community
  • Local media
  • Local governments & school districts
  • Institutes of higher education
  • Philanthropy
  • Health care providers

What do Literacy Coalitions do?

  • Increase resources for literacy and target investments for the greatest impact
  • Expand access to literacy services throughout the community
  • Provide coordination to assure the most efficient, evidence-based services are brought to scale
  • Spread best practice throughout and integrated system of lifelong learning
  • Ensure accountability to achieve high instruction and program management
  • Engage community leadership at its highest levels to build lasting solutions
  • Keep literacy visible as a top priority in the community

Where do we start?

  • Join an existing literacy coalition in your community: There are more than 100 coalitions across the United States. Coalitions welcome new member organizations, programs and individual volunteers. Learn more about the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network in Michigan.
  • Begin a conversation with current and potential partners about increasing collaboration and shared resources.
  • Learn more about how NCFL Literacy Powerline can help support your participation in a local literacy collaboration or get one started in your community.

NCFL Literacy Powerline offers community and coalition building resources and technical assistance to broaden partnerships across communities by working with educators, business and labor leaders, philanthropy, civic and faith-based groups, policymakers, literacy providers and students to demonstrate that everyone thrives when a community is committed to literacy.

Contact us to discover the power and potential of NCFL Literacy Powerline's community and coalition building services.

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