DC Adult and Family Education Week

Guest Blogger: Jamie Kamlet, Advocacy Manager, Academy of Hope Public Charter School

The Community Foundation extends congratulations to the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC-AFLC) on its recently concluded Adult and Family Education Week! Across the country, Sept. 22-28, 2014 was recognized as Adult Education and Family Literacy Awareness Week. In DC, through a series of events and an essay contest, DC-AFLC spent the week raising public awareness of literacy issues, providing critical information to stakeholders and policy-makers, and advocating for increased access to relevant programs.

DC-AFLC is a coalition of more than a dozen local adult literacy providers, advocates, and charter schools united in its mission to improve quality and access to adult and family basic education in the District. Over the past 2 years, the DC-AFLC has realized impressive victories in advocating for increased funding and awareness of adult literacy in the District.

The week started with a panel discussion on the recently enacted Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a landmark piece of recent legislation that takes important steps toward improving the Federal government’s workforce development system. Moderated by the Community Foundation’s Senior Director of Philanthropic Services, Sarah Oldmixon, the expert panelists took a deeper look at the local implications of the law on adult literacy, youth, and workforce development and addressed the numerous questions that still remain.

Later in the week, over 200 Adult Education advocates and adult learners gathered at the Wilson Building, home of the District’s City Council, to discuss the importance of adult education programs. Students heard from a panel about the impact of low adult literacy on other social issues, received advocacy training and then divided into groups for meetings with Councilmembers and their staff. Several students had the opportunity to share their stories directly with Councilmembers, including Yvette Alexander, Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser, and Kenyan McDuffie. Advocates also took the opportunity to thank Councilmembers for their past efforts on adult literacy and to build deeper awareness of the need for increased services. With more than 60,000 adults in the District lacking a high school diploma, the advocates pressed Councilmembers to show their support for adult learners moving forward through new programming, including the creation of an Innovation Fund for nonprofits to pilot proven best practice models in serving adult learners.

Finally, the week wrapped-up with a “Big Tent” meeting of current and potential DC-AFLC members. During the meeting, members reflected on recent work, set priorities for the coming year, and announced the winners of the essay contest. Contest participants were asked to write a letter to a DC Mayoral candidate explaining why they came back to school and how they hoped an education would impact their lives and those of their families. Roughly 70 essays were submitted, and students from Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, Carlos Rosario Public Charter School, Washington Literacy Center, Briya Public Charter School and So Others Might Eat (SOME) took home first place prizes! In her winning essay, Academy of Hope student Dorris wrote, “I will stop at nothing when it comes to my success. I’ve learned that time waits for nobody. I’ve waited long enough, it’s time to strive, time to prosper, it’s time for me to live to my fullest potential, not only for my daughter and father, but finally I’m ready to do better, for me.”

For more information on DC Adult and Family Literacy Week, check out the following links:

http://www.carlosrosario.org/celebrating-dc-adult-education-family-literacy-week/

http://www.dcfpi.org/the-path-to-a-better-job-lets-start-with-adult-literacy

http://www.aohdc.org/GetInvolved/Beanadvocate/AdultEducationFamilyLiteracyWeek2014/tabid/169/Default.aspx

For more information on DC-AFLC or the Community Foundation’s workforce development investments, including how you can help support adult learners, contact Benton Murphy, Senior Program Officer, at bmurphy@cfncr.org.

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