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Our Capabilities

Our Capabilities

NCFL is always working to strengthen and broaden our approaches to family literacy, building on advancements in education and technology as well as the changing needs of families. Our dedication to working with community partners is at the heart of NCFL’s mission. We have developed model programs and innovative laboratories that have become recognized as leaders in advancing family literacy.

Below is an overview of the areas in which we focus our work:


The heart of NCFL’s work lies in its dedication to working with community partners to develop model programs and innovative laboratories that advance family literacy. Here are some of NCFL’s current programs that are leading the way.

Toyota Family Literacy Program— TFLP serves English as a Second Language (ESL) families with children in elementary school. Currently, 75 TFLP sites in 25 cities across the nation have received grant support from NCFL to implement this ground-breaking model. Established in 2003, TFLP addresses the growing needs of Hispanic and other immigrant families by increasing English language and literacy skills for adults while also supporting parents’ involvement in their children’s education. A meta analysis of the studies of high performing family literacy programs can be found here .

Family and Child Education— The FACE program serves American Indian families with children from birth to grade three and is supported by the Bureau of Indian Education. Now operating in 44 American Indian schools, this incredible program provides culturally responsive education, resources and support to American Indian parents and children. To date, the FACE program has reached more than 25,000 families.

The Family Literacy-Community College Initiative— This initiative is exploring the unique partnership between family literacy programs and community colleges in promoting a continuing education for adult learners. NCFL, with funding from the MetLife Foundation, is researching the latest best practices of community colleges in cultivating the enrollment and supporting the progress of former family literacy students.


NCFL is committed to pushing the boundaries of “what’s next” in family literacy and education. We also want to recognize those committed to doing the same. Below are the awards that NCFL hosts to honor excellence in innovative education.

Toyota Family Teacher of the Year— Each year, NCFL and Toyota recognize the outstanding efforts of a family literacy educator with the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award. NCFL awards this honor to a teacher who has made innovative and passionate contributions to improving the lives of adults and children through family literacy — whether through early childhood education, school-based programs, adult literacy and ESL programs, parenting education or a community literacy program.


NCFL is a national organization that realizes the importance of acting at a grassroots effort to inspire true change. Here are some examples of NCFL’s current community-based initiatives that mobilize families and individuals for literacy.

Better World Books Community Book Drives— Better World Books has been a critical partner in NCFL’s fight for a more literate nation, raising more than $330,000 for our mission to date and $5.2 million for literacy and education overall. With Better World Books’ help, NCFL has been able to organize community support from libraries and college campuses all across the country. Better World Books has mobilized local book drives at more than 888 college campuses and libraries nationwide on behalf of NCFL.

McDonald’s Family Mealtime Literacy Nights— Since October 2006, NCFL and the Southern California McDonald’s Restaurants have teamed up for the highly successful Family Mealtime Literacy Nights program, designed to show parents of preschoolers how they can use simple household routines to teach literacy, math and science to their children. These fun and interactive workshops not only allow families special time to spend together, but they also improve school readiness for children and increase parents’ excitement to support their children’s learning.

Toys for Tots Literacy Program— NCFL, The UPS Store® and Mail Boxes Etc.® network, and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation are placing books in the hands of children in communities nationwide. NCFL president and founder Sharon Darling was the official spokesperson for the 2009 Toys for Tots Literacy Program.


NCFL has a wide variety of free online tools covering topics from bolstering parent involvement to teaching financial literacy in the classroom. Here are some examples of these acclaimed resources.

Parents + Schools = Successful Children series— NCFL’s extensive work in the Hispanic community has led to the development of some highly useful and important resources. The most recent of these resources is the foto-novela series. The foto-novela is an extremely popular form of media in Spanish-speaking cultures. NCFL capitalized on this knowledge to create a resource that truly speaks to Hispanic families and engages parents to become more involved in their children’s educations, all while acting as a guide to understanding the American school system. These foto-novelas, made possible by funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, have been met with enthusiasm by educators.


Building a more literate nation takes a nation of empowered, well-informed educators. NCFL helps family literacy practitioners aid families in need by providing the latest in professional development and best practice expertise.

Training— NCFL continues to offer our expertise to train and empower others with the best in family literacy practices. Since 1989, NCFL has trained upwards of 150,000 practitioners, educators and volunteers to become stronger and more prepared to help families face their challenges.

Consulting— NCFL is often called upon to lend our reputable expertise and experience to both local and national projects. Currently, NCFL is the lead consultant for the Metro United Way 4community2 Legacy of Literacy project in Southern Indiana. NCFL is aiding the Southern Indiana community in its quest to promote adult, teen and displaced worker literacy across the region by providing research, resource mobilization and project guidance.


Many of NCFL’s initiatives and resources are based on the latest in research conducted by NCFL staff. We are often called upon by the federal government to lend our expertise to high-level research projects that support literacy and learning.

Recently, NCFL’s National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) completed its Developing Early Literacy report. This report encompasses a thorough research synthesis of 300 studies on early childhood literacy to determine which critical skills and teaching methods for young children lead to long-term success. NELP examined the different types of interventions that work best to help young children develop literacy skills — everything from parent and home programs to shared reading interventions. Developing Early Literacy is already dramatically affecting the ways in which early childhood educators and practitioners are viewing teaching practices.