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Feb 19, 2018 |
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The following is part of a series of guest posts by leaders in the field of literacy. This guest post is by Marissa Jade Kaiser, sr. program manager for Vroom. ncfl-guest-blogger-series_graphic Research tells us that a child’s brain is wired to grow from birth. It starts off with billions of neurons, and during a child’s earliest years, their brain makes 1 million neural connections every single second. Positive, supportive experiences with adults help a child’s brain grow strong and set the foundation for future learning. Long before children learn reading, spelling, and writing skills, they are listening, observing, and looking for clues to connect words and symbols to meaning—even before they can talk! Brain science shows us that learning in the earliest years of life happens in everyday moments shared between caring adults and children. In these moments of back-and-forth interaction, children are forming the foundations for literacy, numeracy, and behavior skills such as focus and self-control. Vroom’s goal is to share the science of brain development in fun, new, and tangible ways, helping parents and caregivers understand that the foundation for lifelong success is created during the first five years of life. Taking early-brain science out of the lab to empower educators, providers, parents, and caregivers, Vroom offers busy adults over 1,000 fun and easy tips to turn everyday moments into an opportunity to boost a child’s brain development. It is free, strength-based, and multi-lingual. Vroom_images Vroom imageAvailable on Apple® or Android® devices and also at, the resource comes packed with tons of free tools and resources. The website includes downloadable tools for you to use and share. Explore Vroom tips by activity, location, or even skill-building category (examples include “Word Play” or the social-emotional skill  “Practicing Patience”). Using these tips alongside children (one-on-one or in small groups) can assist them in building code-focused skills like the ability to know and manipulate the sounds within spoken words (phonological awareness), and to know the letters of the alphabet and combine the letters with the sounds they represent (alphabet knowledge). As you explore tips, be sure to pronounce words clearly, without distortion or in “sing-song” fashion. Model the spacing between sounds when doing blending and segmenting activities. Strive to focus on the sound structure of the new words as well as their meanings. Vroom has the capability to track the brain-building journey with each child in your care by marking favorite tips or including photos of shared moments in a visual scrapbook. After you create an account, your information will appear on whatever device you use, on or offline.

Check out Vroom and tell us what you think in the comments below!

ABOUT VROOM Vroom is a nonprofit initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation, and because it isn’t monetized, you can be assured that all your data stays private and the platform is always ad-free. Kids associate Vroom with quality time with their caregiver, and we want children, parents and you to all enjoy using Vroom together!  MJK_HeadshotMarissa Jade Kaiser is the sr. program manager of Vroom. To learn more about Vroom, visit


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NCFL Partners

Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $35 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read More about Toyota and NCFL

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University