Reflections from the 9th Annual Leadership Institute

This was my first experience at an FLC Leadership Institute. Attendees drove in from Tallahassee, Melbourne, and everywhere in between for two days of professional development and networking. It took place at the beautiful Capt Hirams in Sebastian, where our room overlooked the Indian River. Speakers covered board development, creating a framework for a program, marketing, volunteer recruitment, social media, advocacy, career pathways and fund development. Basically, anything your organization could possibly be interested in or need help with.

The most exciting session was on developing a framework for your adult education program, presented by Carmine from the Literacy Cooperative. The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland works to improve literacy levels among children, youth and adults in Greater Cleveland. They produce several publications and curriculum guides, which I highly recommend checking out, but they also provide materials to help nonprofits. The Framework for Program Improvements in Adult Literacy is a realistic guide for practitioners, grant makers and policy makers. It includes research-based practices, factors that impact learning outcomes, and a self-assessment tool. Practitioners can use it to address the needs of adult learners. Organizations can see what they need to do to address workforce and literacy goals, address support services/case management, improve learner persistence, increase instructor professional development, and identify the entry level of learners in comparison to their other clients. Grant makers will see realistic goals and deadlines for these tasks. Instead of assuming something unrealistic, like having someone with a 2nd grade reading level complete the GED in a year, they can see other ways of measuring progress that will be beneficial to the students, the literacy organization, and the grantor. This tool helps the communication confusion and barriers.

Conference attendees broke off into groups and discussed how they could implement this curriculum/framework. Everyone had different resources to share for student assessment and career/college readiness! A few of these were www.balancedreading.com (reading assessment), www.usalearns.org (free online ESOL course), and Wonderlic gain test (student assessment). The Literacy Volunteers of Gadsden County spoke about a program they use where GED students take college-like online courses as part of their prep curriculum. This program gets student’s prepared for the GED, prepared for college, and improves their digital literacy.

Most of the attendees were executive directors and board members. As a participant who is a bit further down the totem pole than an ED or CEO, I learned a lot about what is going on in the adult literacy field. After talking with several people, even those who have been in the field for 20 years, I found out that they were also very excited about what they had learned.

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