NCFL launches bold new vision for equity

When the world shut down in the spring of 2020, Katlyn Rivera, a single mother living in Yuma, Arizona, lost her job and took on the role of teacher for her children. The family endured isolation and hardship, and her oldest son fell behind academically. She joined the family literacy program at O.C. Johnson Elementary School in 2021, only intending to learn more about positive discipline for her son in a six-week class. She said, “When I came to this program I said, ‘I’m just here to learn. I’m not here to make friends.’” What she found, though, was a community of support for her whole family—and it’s why she has continued to come back to engage in learning and gain access to opportunities for her family. The impact of the pandemic is still being felt today by Katlyn and so many other families; its aftermath will continue to pose a challenge if we cannot find deeper ways to partner with families and communities.

While participating in the program, Katlyn learned how to support her son to make gains in reading and learned skills in resume-writing and interviewing. She credits the program for increasing her confidence, as well as her social networks, which led her on a pathway for a new job opportunity.

For Katlyn’s family and so many others, family literacy is an on-ramp to tackle many barriers they face in reaching their educational and economic goals. Families and communities across the nation are still grappling with the devastating impact of the pandemic on learning, health and well-being, and economic prosperity. Current systems of support for children and families are fragmented, misaligned, inequitable, and often inaccessible—particularly to those experiencing poverty or whose voices and ideas have been underrepresented or excluded from conversations focused on improving education and community outcomes.

The challenge is too big for one group or organization to tackle alone. Coordinated and aligned efforts are critical to addressing learning recovery, social-emotional health, and the workforce development of knowledge and skills needed for today’s economy.

The shape of the U.S. with lines zigzagging to different points on the map overlaying a collage of participant photos with the text A Future Design for Equitable Communities

A Future Design for Equitable Communities

Today the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) is launching its 60×30 Vision to establish coordinated and aligned family learning systems in 60 communities by 2030, built with and for families, to increase education and economic outcomes and create more equitable communities.

Family learning systems consist of deep learning opportunities in family literacy, family engagement, and family leadership. These systems of support create relevant, equitable, and accessible learning opportunities; build capacity; strengthen partnerships; and activate family leadership for children and families who are furthest from opportunity. Further, families and communities are intentionally networked for increased learning and impact. To learn more about the family learning systems approach to advancing equity in communities, read NCFL’s new resource.

“NCFL’s 34-year legacy is working in communities, large and small, to support families in making transformational change in their lives through education,” says Dr. Felicia C. Smith, NCFL’s president and CEO. “Over the years, we’ve identified the need to network families and communities to foster authentic and sustainable change. Fulfilling our bold vision brings us closer to achieving equitable communities where children and families feel valued, gain social capital, and thrive in a just and fair society working alongside a collective group of community stakeholders.”

Family Learning Community Collaborative

To strengthen its efforts, galvanize innovation, and create shared accountability and learning opportunities, NCFL has convened a group of reputable and innovative organizations that are committed to bringing resources and assets that advance education attainment and economic prosperity to the 60×30 communities. If deep collaboration is desired within and across communities, that same approach is necessary at a national level. National organizations with meaningful and innovative approaches to support children, families, and communities can accomplish more with shared commitments to advancing a vision for more equitable communities. The inaugural Family Learning Community Collaborative members are Learning Heroes, Partners for Rural Impact, Search Institute, The Equity Lab, TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, Unite for Literacy, and World Education. Each organization is committed to leveraging their specialized expertise through a collaborative spirit to support children, families, and communities.

Apply for a Mini-Grant to Join the Family Learning Community Network

NCFL invites communities to join the 60×30 campaign for advancing family learning systems to support equitable communities for generations to come. Readers ready to embark on this work with NCFL can apply for a mini-grant* to support costs associated with co-designing an innovative approach to building aligned and coordinated family learning systems in your community. Visit×30 to apply today. *This opportunity is currently closed.