Research shows that engaging families in education is critical not only to a child’s success, but to the entire family’s economic and social well-being. The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) promotes family education solutions across three approaches by engaging families, educators, administrators, and advocates to drive results and ultimately reduce education inequities. Our work supports multigenerational learning for families from early childhood through adult education. 

During the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we have developed a collection of free online learning resources for families to engage with together at home, and are encouraging literacy practitioners to be aware of potential funding opportunities related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Additionally, our program partners are reshaping how they engage families, from virtual Parent Cafes to virtual music lessons. Take a look at some of their innovations here. We will work with our partners to evolve these and other resources as the landscape continues to change.

Model Programming

Model Programming

Place-based instruction of varying length and intensity to support families.

  • Family Literacy programming
  • Family Learning programming
  • Family Engagement

To learn the specifics of our different programming models, please refer to our white paper Defining Our Work: Families Learning Together.

Professional Development

Professional Development

Training and resources to support professionals and practitioners of family learning.

  • In-person training
  • Online courses
  • Publications, curricula
  • Research and evaluation

Visit our Professional Development page to find our specific offerings and opportunities.

Community Development

Community Development

Recruitment and activation of local partners and organizations, working collectively to build comprehensive family learning systems.

  • Family Service Learning
  • Policy and advocacy
  • Community-wide initiatives

All of our work is focused on building capacity and creating opportunities for families. This is not done in isolation or through a cookie-cutter approach. What works in one community may not be best in a different location, and it takes a team of local support to create the greatest impact. With this in mind, NCFL operates a network of Family Learning Communities, each with different offerings tailored to a location’s unique needs and situations. Local partners and service providers are enlisted in each Family Learning Community to maximize results across the country.

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