National Coalition for Literacy Honors Literacy Leaders (Updated)

Photo of awards

The National Coalition for Literacy gathered on Capitol Hill last Thursday night to present the 2015 Literacy Leadership Awards, an annual tradition that recognizes individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving adult literacy in the U.S. and raising public awareness of this critical issue.

This year we were pleased to honor the Honorable Phil Roe, U.S. Representative from Tennessee, for his leadership as the Republican co-chair of the House Adult Literacy Caucus; the Honorable Michael A. Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, for his efforts in raising awareness of adult literacy and expanding opportunities for adult learners in the city of Philadelphia; Kavitha Cardoza, Special Correspondent at WAMU, for her reporting on the adult literacy crisis facing communities across the country; and the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN), represented by board member Lynda Ginsberg, Senior Research Associate for Mathematics Education at the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education at Rutgers University. A special posthumous recognition award was presented to Mary Jane Schmitt, co-founder of ANN, who passed away earlier this year. (Read our press release.)

“I am honored to be recognized by the National Coalition for Literacy,” said Representative Roe, co-chair of the House Adult Literacy Caucus with Representative Rubén Hinojosa of Texas, who was an honoree in 2008. “Adult education is an important part of our economy, and it’s important to remember the contributions adult learners bring to our workforce and communities. I am proud to be recognized alongside individuals like Mayor Michael Nutter, Kavitha Cardoza and Mary Jane Schmitt, and I am glad our commitment to adult education extends past party lines.”

Photo:
NCL Literacy Leadership Award Honoree Rep. Phil Roe accepting his award | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Mayor Nutter delivered remarks by video. “This Literacy Leadership Award means so much to me personally,” he said, “because I’ve been an advocate for adult learners during all of my time as mayor since 2008. One of my main priorities has been to raise educational attainment for all Philadelphians, which includes adults not in school. There is clearly a direct correlation between our city’s high poverty rate and the low adult literacy rate. Helping adult learners increase their literacy skills ultimately helps them support themselves and their families.” Watch the Mayor’s full remarks below:

Cardoza told the crowd that she felt compelled to begin reporting on adult literacy when she realized that her reporting on education was incomplete without it. “You can’t talk about education in the U.S, without talking about adult education,” she said.

Photo: NCL President Jeff Carter with 2015 Literacy Leadership Award honoree Kavitha Cardoza
NCL President Jeff Carter with 2015 Literacy Leadership Award honoree Kavitha Cardoza | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Mary Jane Schmitt was involved with adult numeracy—the intersection of the adult education and mathematics education fields—for over thirty years. In 1994, she co-founded the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN). She also founded and directed the Adult Numeracy Center at TERC—a constellation of projects contributing to pioneering research and development in adult mathematics education.

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NCL board member Silja Kallenbach presents 2015 Literacy Leadership Awards to Lynda Ginsburg | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and to our colleagues who helped put it together. Special thanks to Gabe Martinez, who took the wonderful pictures above, and to the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Literacy for working with Mayor Nutter on the video.

Finally, a very special thanks to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for their support for the awards.

National Coalition For Literacy Participates in White House Upskill Summit

VP Biden Addressing Upskill Event
Vice President Biden addressing participants at White House Upskilling Summit, April 24th.

Last Friday, I was invited to represent both Digital Promise and the National Coalition for Literacy at the White House Upskill Summit, joining 150 employers, labor leaders, foundations, non-profits, educators and tech innovators from across the U.S. to share ideas and strategies for equipping workers with the skills they need to advance into better jobs. Much of the discussion focused on “frontline workers” — those workers who deal directly with customers or who are directly involved in the most visible functions of a business, and who are often at the bottom of the organizational chart. Assembly workers, bank tellers, cashiers, and stock workers are examples.

During the summit, the White House announced new commitments being made by public and private partners in response to a call to action launched by the President in January “to help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t have a higher education.”

I wish there had been more representatives from the adult education field present. For those of us who were there, it was a unique opportunity to advocate directly with employers on behalf of workers with very low skills—many of whom are part of that frontline workforce. As we know from PIAAC, two-thirds of the estimated 36 million adults in this country with very low literacy skills are employed, but often in low-paying, dead-end jobs. The lack of basic skills blocks millions of these workers from accessing the education and training they need to advance to better paying jobs.

I was impressed by the level of interest among participants in the needs of the lowest-skilled workers and in the U.S. adult education system in general. During his opening remarks, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez specifically acknowledged that literacy and numeracy challenges often hold people back from advancing their careers beyond those frontline jobs, and this provided a perfect opening for me as I advocated for these workers throughout the day.

The summit closed with an address from Vice President Joe Biden, who tied the discussions held during the day to the broader goals laid out in his Job-Driven Training Action Plan from last year.

UPDATED: New Webinar Series for Advocates: Using PIAAC Data

(Updated 5/12/15 with webinar slides)

This two-part webinar series, Framing Effective Advocacy Messages: Using PIAAC Data, will strengthen your ability to advocate for adult education using the most recent data on U.S. adults’ skills from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Each webinar will combine a focused presentation on the research findings with a segment on effective messaging and a research-to-practice response by a local adult education advocate.

Webinar 1: Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving

Friday, April 10, 2015, 3:00-4:30 pm ET

This webinar will provide a broad look at findings related to adult literacy, numeracy, and the ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments. Presenters:

  • Margaret Patterson, Research Allies for Lifelong Learning
  • Dan Rafter, Spitfire Strategies
  • Roberta Soolman, Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts

NCL webinar 04-10-15 slides

 

Webinar 2: Health Literacy Through the PIAAC Lens

Monday, May 4, 2015, 3:00-4:15 pm ET

This webinar will focus on the connection between adults’ skills and their health and health literacy. Presenters:

  • Goodling Institute / Penn State University representative
  • Dan Rafter, Spitfire Strategies
  • Allison Kokkoros, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

NCL_PIAAC-Health-webinar_4May2015 slides

 

Made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Make Adult Education a 2016 Budget Priority

NCL 2016 Budget Letter - March 2015This week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to draft a budget resolution that supports adequate funding for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As noted in our letter, the federal investment in adult education state grants has been steadily declining in terms of real dollars since FY 2002. Unlike many other programs, adult education state grants did not have  its sequestered funds restored in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 included a $5 million increase, but that was $26 million less than the pre-sequestration level of $595 million.

In addition, we asked that the budget resolution provide the appropriations committees with the flexibility to consider full restoration of “ability-to-benefit” under the Pell grant program.

For more details, we encourage you to read the entire letter.

The congressional budget resolution establishes overall revenue and spending totals for a given fiscal year (in this case, for fiscal year 2016). It allocates spending among major government functions, set limits on discretionary spending programs, and establishes target levels for mandatory spending.

The House and Senate Budget Committees are drafting their two respective budget resolutions this month. They are not required to follow the President’s budget, but they often use it as their starting point.