Toyota Family Learning: First Year Yields Impressive Results

TFLLast year, NCFL set out with the intention to begin building the next-generation model for family literacy with Toyota Family Learning. We awarded five $175,000 three-year grants to a school, library, and community-based organizations spanning the US (and will award five more this year and next). These organizations were chosen based on their robust family-oriented intergenerational approach to delivering educational services to low-income families. 

We asked our Toyota Family Learning sites to incorporate two traditional family literacy components — Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® and Parent Time — and two new components—Family Service Learning and Family Mentoring with digital learning infused throughout. NCFL specialists provided program directors and facilitators with professional training and technical support.

At best we wanted to design an initiative that would boost participants’ leadership capacity and social capital. Weeks into the program, we began to hear stories about participating parents developing teamwork skills, self-confidence, self-efficacy, sense of pride and worth, and leadership skills. We then knew we were on to something special; Toyota Family Learning was creating a culture of family learning in communities spanning Texas, Rhode Island, New York, Nebraska, and California.

Excited to receive the quantitative data to back up the qualitative, we were more than pleased to see the results reported by our evalulators, The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy. Here is a top-level view of what Toyota Family Learning produced in its inaugural year:

  • Increases in parents confidently using technology with children across a wide variety of educational, informational, and entertainment websites, indicating the extent of online learning and interaction.
  • Increases in parents’ school engagement, especially volunteering activities that require a parent to actively engage with school personnel beyond their child’s behavior or watching a school performance.
  • Increases in community involvement and leadership, by 30 to 50 percentage points, indicating that participants gained knowledge and confidence in their skills and voice to become engaged in their communities, as manifested by service learning projects and site visits.
  • Gains in the number of times parents read to, read with, and listened to their child(ren) read.
  • Increases in sibling and father involvement, the latter of which rose 24 to 44 percent in a variety of categories.
  • Programs logged 8,721 participant hours overall.

We’ll soon be announcing our next round of Toyota Family Learning grantees. Stay tuned for more stories!

Toyota Family Learning, a 6-year nationwide initiative led by NCFL, was created to address educational needs and provide opportunities for low-income and ethnically-diverse families to roll up their sleeves and build stronger communities. NCFL knows that when children and families solve community issues together, they are simultaneously learning and applying 21st century college and career readiness skills.