National Convenings

2011 National Literacy Coalition Conference and Annual Literacy Funders Network Symposium

Equity Education Prosperity National Center Responsive Philanthropy

Forum Supporting System Change J Marion Sims Foundation

Forum Supporting System Change National Implementation Research Network

Forum Supporting System Change Say Yes to Education

Meeting with US Department of Education Assistant Secretary, Brenda Dann-Messier
Chicago, June 28, 2010

Meeting attendees: Evette Cardona (Polk Brothers Foundation),Whitney Smith (Joyce Foundation), Sharon Bush (Lloyd A. Fry Foundation), Nora Moreno Cargie (Boeing Foundation), Sherri Moses (Grand Victoria Foundation), Hector Cordero (Ford Foundation), John Padilla (Annie E. Casey Foundation), Assistant Secretary, Brenda Dann-Messier, Sheryl Keenan and Dan Miller from OVAE and Margaret Doughty (LFN)

Evette welcomed everyone and thanked the Assistant Secretary for meeting with the Literacy Funders Network. She made the link from first to second meeting and shared comments on LFN projects/goals and reviewed the four agenda items. Each funder introduced themselves, commented on their funding interest in literacy, key focus areas and their support for the goals of the LFN. Evette invited the Assistant Secretary to share what’s happening in Washington.

Assistant Secretary, Brenda Dann-Messier spoke to current discussions, initiatives, interagency collaborations, funding activities and opportunities. The Assistant Secretary shared that she was seeing a large number of mark-ups related to literacy on various bills she was reviewing and commented that there is really good input from the field to keep literacy a top priority across lifelong learning. She mentioned that Secretary Arne Duncan met recently with the national PTA organization and talked about parent education and the inclusion of adult literacy in Back to School messaging. She talked about the workforce development dialogues and the importance of this across the spectrum. Hector talked about the need to accelerate pace and the value of models that moved adult learners further faster. Brenda said, “The Literacy Funders Network is a coalition of funders and the timing for LFN initiatives could not be better.” She also shared information about the Workforce Innovation Fund and the fact that the bill needed to be supported. Whitney asked if we could offer suggestions and the response was affirmative. Brenda is focusing efforts on the following 6 key areas.
1. Workforce Innovation Fund – she will continue to leverage resources even after the bill is passed
2. Professionalizing the field – symposium on adult education instruction in September
3. Developing of Career Pathways
4. Increasing accountability
5. EL Civics and serving immigrant professionals
6. Corrections and re-entry –working to restore the ‘minimum of 10%’

Literacy coalitions and their role in building local collaboration, capacity and outcomes –Sharon Bush
Sharon discussed the background of community collaboration models, the changing model from competition to collaboration, cross-silo cooperation at the local level, bringing the vast array of stakeholders together, and the need for incentivizing local innovation. She expressed concern about the need for measuring the changes taking place in community literacy and the need for tracking impact and strategies linking national efforts to support local collaboration. She commented that so many of the LFN foundations have invested in community literacy coalitions. She noted the challenges at the local level of linking to larger systems and she asked the group to explore how, both OVAE and the LFN, might incentivize the model of collaboration at the local level. The Fry Foundation is also interested in acceleration of learning – how do we do that? How do we help identify acceleration models? How do we also draw in Human Services and make the connection to TANF reauthorization?

Following up on OVAE’s Integrated Education and Training Memorandum – Whitney Smith
Whitney expressed appreciation to the Assistant Secretary for the IET memo and talked about potential next steps, effectiveness of bridge models, taking success to scale, and the potential for a peer learning network as models evolve. Whitney asked about the opportunities for a similar WIA Title I memo. Brenda talked about growing collaboration with other Departments including DHHS and logistical challenges of issuing joint memoranda on a timely basis. The Joyce Foundation is interested in supporting rigorous research of IET models potentially in collaborating with the federally funded ISIS project. Whitney also said she is interested in identifying interim progress measures for noncredit students. CLASP is doing some work on this. Finally, Whitney raised whether or not a national network of IET providers would be warranted. Brenda suggested that a national network could be a consortia ad the group should get ideas to her. She will welcome ideas around evaluation .Regarding interim measures, we need to review the work that CLASP is doing work in this area and explore a possible partnership with Ed.
On July 14th Brenda will be back in Chicago with Jane Oates for a listening session – LFN is invited to participate.

Supporting local place-based literacy initiatives - Margaret Doughty
Margaret discussed the role for community literacy efforts in place-based innovation projects. Coalitions had partnered on i3 Innovations grants, the high school graduation initiative, full service community schools and promise neighborhoods. The process identified challenges and opportunities in many communities for those who eventually applied as well as those that did not. For the applications requiring matching foundations established new collaborations and the LFN will encourage the continuation of those partnerships even for projects that do not receive the federal funding. Margaret noted that in some of the requests for proposal adult education as not a requirement. Brenda expressed her concern about the lack of adult education in these models, especially the HCZ models, and noted that she has addressed the issue with some of the respective leaders. Margaret recognized that the funding was directed to the very neediest school districts and concerned about identifying ways to support poorly performing districts that were not only on the very lowest category. What could happen to maintain interest in innovation on all the applications that cannot be funded? Margaret asked about the role to be played in played in improving professionalization of the field? Brenda is supportive of this.

Other Discussion Items
Margaret shared information about the coalition impact study that FSG will conduct. Hector requested a copy of the proposal and we will provide more information to him.
Evette asked if there were other items that the group needed to discuss.
Brenda asked how the LFN might support a demand for improved instruction. Whitney asked about the role in the development of career pathways.
Brenda also suggested that there is a need to look at the impact of state funding as it relates to formula and performance – seat time is not the relevant measure. There is a need to build capacity and the LFN might explore how local coalitions assist in building capacity.
Evette raised the issue of ESL needs and immigration. Brenda shared some of the strategies developed at Dorcas Place. Dialogue occurred around strategies for professional immigrants to move forward in their credentialing and pathways. What are the next steps on potential support for this issue?
Evette thanked Brenda for taking the time to continue the discussion and emphasized the goal of the LFN to continue to support OVAE and explore some concrete strategies to meet mutual goals.

Recommendations and Next Steps
1. Create a listing of successful models that demonstrate accelerated learning. John Padilla would like to explore this further and it will assist other funders in LFN.
2. Make recommendations to the Brenda to inform the Workforce Innovation Fund – Margaret will send a memo to LFN members to seek input.
3. Brenda invited LFN members to the Adults in Transition Forum in Chicago on July 14th. Whitney is already planning to attend. Invite LFN members to share input for the discussion and provide feedback to members following the forum.
4. The Coalition Impact Study builds on the NIFL Guide to Performance Management for Community Literacy Coalitions. Discuss with Dan Miller possible linkages.
5. Evaluation of workforce integration models. Explore a partnership between LFN and Workforce Matters. John and Hector are the co-chairs for Workforce Matters. Follow up with them on suggestions related to evaluating models. Review recommendations of the ISIS Study. Submit evaluation recommendations to Brenda.
6. Explore support of increased professional development and accountability to improve research-based reading and instructional quality. What can LFN members do to support this with grantees?
7. Review possibilities of supporting models and pilots related to workforce pathway development.

Chicago, March 2010

Attendees: Nancy Williams, Verizon Foundation; Mei Cheng, Junior League of Oklahoma City; Mary Surbeck, Oklahoma City Community Foundation; Dennine Torr, Dollar General Foundation; Sharon Bush, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Evette Cardona, Polk Brothers Foundation; Whitney Smith, Joyce Foundation; Gloria Mwase, National Fund for Workforce Solutions; David Harvey, ProLiteracy; and Sheryl Keenan and Dan Miller (OVAE staff).

Summary: At the National Community Literacy Conference in Chicago in March, LFN members met with Brenda Dann-Messier to discuss updates, opportunities and challenges related to improving literacy services for adults and the role of LFN in supporting change. The assistant secretary shared her vision for the future and based many of her comments on her background as a nonprofit leader. She congratulated the LFN for coming together to support literacy and discussed the critical importance of collaboration between the private and public sectors in order to maximize resources.
The assistant secretary shared the changes and initiatives taking place at the Department of Education and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education. She discussed the direction Secretary Arne Duncan is taking the Department and shared the importance of the relationship between her and the assistance secretaries in workforce investment and elementary and secondary education. LFN members appreciated this lifelong learning collaboration and recognized that many of the coalitions and providers supported by LFN members are serving the full lifelong learning span. She also spoke on the importance of inter-agency dialogue and exploring ways the foundations might be supportive of those conversations.
LFN members offered support and concurred with the assistant secretary’s goals. It was suggested that some of the issues facing foundations was in understanding the actual language that drove the Workforce Investment Act and the way that it is implemented in parts of the country. There is a breakdown in some communities regarding eligibility regulations, funding regulations, and the full inclusion of the nonprofit sector.

The assistant secretary invited more input and welcomed the opportunity to create a forum to work together to address these concerns. There was a suggestion that we put together, with OVAE, a ’40 Things the Literacy Field Can Do To Improve Literacy Performance’ piece. The concept would be to work back from the end vision to make the changes and partnerships needed for long-term success. The assistant secretary suggested that the LFN was the natural convener for this dialogue.