The National Center for Family Literacy

 There are many professional organizations that can help literacy experts stay  involved in the profession beyond their classroom or school assignment. Students in the spring semester of READ 6325 explored various professional organizations and are sharing what they learned through this blog series.

By R. Salinas

The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) was established in 1989 by Sharon Darling, the current president.  On its home page http://www.famlit.org appears the motto of “Creating a literate nation by leveraging the power of the family.”  This commitment and dedication is illustrated through the help of thousands of teachers and volunteers.  Unlike other organizations, this one does not require a monetary payment as part of their membership.  Individuals who would like to “join” their quest for family literacy have several options.  One can simply subscribe to their newsletter, become a fan on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, make a monetary donation, or any combination of the four.There is also the Literacy Now Blog which not only has links to add comments or ask questions but also includes additional links for other organizations and resources.  This organization and website is not only for educators.  Parents and other people in the community who are just interested in helping with family literacy can subscribe, donate, become a fan, or follow them.

The NCFL is an organization which focuses on family literacy by working with various community partners – companies, organizations, and agencies – to offer families help in improving their domestic situation.  NCFL realizes that literacy is the key to success in today’s economy and children learn better and are more motivated when parents are involved.  Therefore the organization has concentrated on this vital detail and has created different programs and initiatives in the hopes of improving literacy everywhere.  Their programs are not only local but also state and nationwide.  A few of their programs are co-sponsored by familiar names such as Toyota and Dollar General.

Not only does NCFL get involved through family literacy programs, it also sponsors a national conference and offers professional development.  From April 3 – 5, 2011, the 20th National Conference on Family Literacy will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.  One hundred different sessions will be held during the three day conference.  Professional development is offered through online courses, distance learning, and on-site training.  These trainings can be designed for anyone from Head Start and Early Childhood teachers to Community Leaders to Librarians. 

NCFL has lobbyists who search for acts and fund sources at state and federal levels to maintain or expand literacy programs already in place and create new ones.  There are awards and grant opportunities through the NCFL partner, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.  Resources, free and otherwise, are also available on the NCFL website.  These include videos, DVDs, and publications which help educators with problems or questions they might have about how to help families with literacy.  There are also links to other resource websites and some downloadable publications and resources which educators can use immediately.  Two sites in particular that are good choices are Wonderopolis.org and Thinkfinity.org.  Wonderopolis.org is a website for families to enjoy together and Thinkfinity.org is more of a website for teachers which helps with lesson plans, resources, and ideas.  One downloadable resource is called the “Foto-Novela” and is designed to be shown to parents so that they understand the importance of family literacy.  Through the abundance of resources available on the NCFL, everyone will find something to their liking.

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