Building a family literacy program

Thanks to Misti Lauer, 2008 Finalist for the Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year Award, for these words of advice on building a family literacy program.

Creating a family literacy program takes plenty of thought and planning; most important is a thorough look at the community needs and current resources available. Collaboration is an ongoing process as needs and resources change, but partnerships and collaborations are assets to any family literacy project. It is important to avoid duplication within the communities that are being served, so the project directors and key personnel must first take an inventory of or get familiar with the services that already exist. It’s easy to let the motivation and passion for a project takeover without considering what is already being done. With a little forethought and planning, your program can profit from and be enhanced by other existing agencies.

After examining potential collaborations, another element to consider is your students and your stakeholders. Essential to any project success is developing tools for ongoing evaluation; this might include student surveys, documentation of educational gains and evaluation of marketing/recruitment efforts. Evaluation should be a collaborative effort with the adult and early childhood staff, but it is valuable to solicit the ideas and comments from participating students. These efforts will ensure that you provide your grant funders all the necessary project information.