Sharon Darling honored as national Literacy Leader

When Sharon Darling started the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) nearly 30 years ago, she never realized the organization that essentially created family literacy in this country would impact over 2 million families. Throughout the years, Darling has been recognized for her pioneering leadership and positive impact on families, and the recognition continues today. This month, Darling was awarded the Literacy Leadership Award by the National Coalition for Literacy.

The Literacy Leadership Award is given to individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary national contributions to improving adult literacy and English language learning in the United States.

“It is so rewarding to see the work we are doing being recognized,” Darling said. “NCFL continues to strengthen the bonds between parent and child through our two-generation approach, and because of that, more parents are becoming empowered through education. They are gaining valuable literacy and employability skills that allow them to contribute to society and create stronger bonds with one another through our Family Learning model.”

Darling was one of four selected for her key role in recognizing the critical link between parents’ education and children’s learning. During her nearly three decades of leadership, NCFL has established a nationwide network of programs that provide high quality, accessible family-based education and have helped vulnerable families learn and thrive together.

NCFL works with more than 140 community partners across the U.S. The NCFL Family Learning model is research-based and consists of adult skill building, child skill building, Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®, Parent Time, and Family Service Learning. High-impact strategies used in the model include community service projects that build social capital within neighborhoods and among families.

In NCFL model programs, parents learn how to better work and learn together with their children, while also building employability, technology, and language skills. Data shows half of adults participating in 2017 got a better job and 53 percent upgraded their skills to earn more money after gaining experience with 40 out of 42 career and technical education skills.

If you are interested in bringing the NCFL Family Learning model to your program or community, please contact Dr. Josh Cramer at for more information.