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The Literacy Cooperative’s Year in Review 2019

This year was a great year of growth for The Literacy Cooperative! We relocated smoothly to offices within the Hanna Building, promoted Joan Spoerl from a part-time coordinator to full-time Director of Imagination Library, and hired Emma Keating as our full-time Digital Communications Associate.

Imagination Library

This year marks some exciting times for Imagination Library! The State of Ohio approved $5 million to create the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library Program (OGIL) to support the statewide expansion of the Imagination Library. The funds will be used to pay for one-half of the costs of books and mailing of the books. First Lady Fran DeWine has been leading this effort.

As of today, we are serving over 9,000 children in 28 different ZIP codes, most recently adding ZIPs 44121, 44124, and 44143.

2Gen Community

TLC and the 2Gen Committee published the 2Gen Call to Action and gathered direct service providers, educators and administrators for a 2Gen Summit, where the plan was presented. A total of 78 people across 47 organizations participated. TLC worked with committee partners to foster 2Gen partnerships that resulted in the funding of two additional 2Gen pilots in Cuyahoga County. There are currently four 2Gen pilots connected to the committee and TLC will be working with them to track progress and successes.

XPRIZE Communities Competition

Between April and August, TLC led a team of local organizations and entered the $1 million Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition, a national competition that challenges organizations, communities and individuals to recruit adults with low literacy skills to download and use effective, convenient and private learning apps. Team LitFitNEO, consisting of partners in Cuyahoga and Summit counties, was among 46 competitors across the U.S.

The team spread the message to all adults to download and use the apps to advance literacy and to give our community the chance to win the competition and bring much-needed resources to advance adult literacy services.

On April 1, 2019, XPRIZE recognized the team for their innovative, feasible and scalable plan and awarded us one of 24 Milestone Awards, granted for best proposals.

Professional Excellence

TLC uses its professional development platform to share promising practices with the community. So far this year, we have provided 18 workshops, one national speaker engagement, our 2Gen Literacy Summit, our Teacher Academy and three learning communities to more than 700 attendees representing more than 100 organizations.

Career Pathways

TLC continued its partnership with University Settlement for the operation of NEO Skill Corps. In 2019, an evaluation of NEO Skill Corps was published for services provided September 2015 through August 2018.  The conclusion indicated the program was successful in reaching its performance goals.  The program supported 3,867 participants at 12 sites across the city of Cleveland. As a result of the program, 79% of participants achieved their intended goal of finding a job, enrolling in training or tutoring, or completing work readiness programs.

Co-chairing the Slavic Village P-16 Employment Committee with Towards Employment, we led a manufacturing career pathway pilot in response to employers in and around Slavic Village needing entry and mid-level employees.  Our first two cohorts resulted in 11 of 15 successfully obtaining the national certification and eight out of 11 placed at an average wage of $14.00 per hour.

Contextualized Curriculum

One of the key successes highlighted from the Slavic Village manufacturing certification training program pilot was the use of the contextualized curriculum and the tutoring offered to participants to prepare them for the WorkKeys and the Certified Production Technician (CPT) assessments.  The instructor indicated that participants passed their assessments due to this combination of assistance.

TLC hosted professional development sessions to provide instruction on the use of the contextualized curriculum. TLC’s inventory of contextualized curriculum now includes 40 hours of math and reading exercises related to IT/digital literacy and healthcare, and more than 150 hours of math, reading, science and social studies lessons related to construction and manufacturing.  There are 150 instructors from Cuyahoga, other Ohio counties and other states with access to the curriculum.

TLC is actively working on refreshing the contextualized curriculum and adding curriculum for the hospitality sector.

Ohio Workforce Coalition and SkillSpan

The National Skills Coalition has selected the Ohio Workforce Coalition to join SkillSPAN, a nationwide network of non-partisan coalitions focused on advancing state policies that expand economic opportunities for workers and their families while boosting local businesses’ capacity. The Ohio Workforce Coalition joins the original 10 founding states and will receive a $25,000 grant to advance work throughout 2020. Read the press release.

TLC looks forward to its role as a fiscal agent on behalf of the Ohio Workforce Coalition. With this partnership and involvement, TLC will be able to further establish itself as a leading resource and advocate for literacy education inclusion in Greater Cleveland and beyond.

The Ohio Workforce Coalition brings three major goals to SkillSPAN, including building the skills of adult workers, working to meet the skill needs of employers, and strengthening the entire workforce system. Through this partnership, the Coalition will be better suited to accomplish its goals and build educational and career pathways for all Ohioans.

CLE-BEE (click here for the highlight reel)

TLC hosted its fourth annual Corporate Spelling Bee on Sept. 12, 2019, with a total of 27 teams of three which competed in four “swarms” – finance, community, legal and corporate. TLC received press coverage from Freshwater CLE and WKYC. This year’s final four were Benesch Law, Medical Mutual, ideastream and Tri-C, with Benesch Law taking home the championship.

Reach Out and Read

September marked the end of a 3-year Bruening Foundation grant that funded a full-time Literacy Cooperative staff member to support Reach Out and Read. Lynn Foran is now the executive director of Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland and will continue serving the community from a new location at The Cleveland Public Library. Read our story here.

During her tenure here, Foran grew Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland from 23 health system sites to 33 and facilitated the distribution of 86,000 new books and doctor-parent conversations. Children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of others on their vocabulary tests because they are regularly read aloud to. Lynn also contributed to the launch and growth of Imagination Library in Cuyahoga County.

Speaking Engagements

COABE (Coalition on Adult Basic Education) – TLC presented at the annual conference in New Orleans. The panel included the CEO of Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, the Research Director for Jobs for the Future and the Senior Policy Analyst from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). The topic focused on urban communities and how to help adults develop basic skills, family-sustaining employment to build stronger communities. Laureen Atkins discussed the development and use of the contextualized curriculum available through TLC.

Bob Paponetti made multiple media appearances on WKYC to promote the CLE-BEE, discuss Reach Out and Read, and make the case for advanced literacy. He made an appearance on WTAM to promote the CLE-BEE and was featured on their “CEOs You Should Know” list. Bob also co-presented at the Civic Leadership Institute’s Education Day with CMSD Superintendent Eric Gordon. Joan Spoerl was on Sound of Ideas, speaking about how to raise your children to be readers. She talked with a bestselling author from The New York Times about the importance of engaging children in reading from a young age. Laureen Atkins appeared on WKYC to promote the XPRIZE competition.

You can view or listen to our speaking engagements here.

Advocacy/Awareness

TLC staff are members of several Say Yes to Education committees including, Kindergarten Readiness, Family Stability, and Post-Secondary Advancement. TLC staff continues to participate on the Ohio Workforce Coalition, the Open Door Collective, and the NEO Workforce Coalition to develop a coordinated agenda for advocacy and awareness. TLC also serves on Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Board’s Strategic Functions Committee.

Through the Open Door Collective TLC assisted in the publishing of several Can-Do Guides that provide ways for organizations and leaders to participate in strengthening basic skills in the workforce. Our work with the Ohio Workforce Coalition led to the SkillSPAN partnership that is highlighted on page three.

TLC hosted a Read Across America Day luncheon in March 2019 featuring Dr. Perri Klass, National Medical Director of Reach Out and Read (ROR). More than 170 attendees learned about her work at ROR and how she has trained thousands of medical providers in the ROR strategies of early literacy promotion.

We published our literacy dashboard, developed by staff and our Research and Evaluation Committee. The dashboard details the state of literacy in Cuyahoga County. We used this data to update our policy agenda for stronger advocacy in early literacy, two-generational practices/ parent engagement, and adult education/career pathways.

We continued to increase our presence on social media, adding a Facebook page for the Imagination Library Greater Cleveland with a special parent group for Imagination Library families.

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For more information on our programs, follow us on social media – @literacycoop on all platforms.

A Three-Year Partnership Proves Successful

After three years of growth within The Literacy Cooperative, Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland is ready to reach out on its own. 

September marks the end of a 3-year Bruening Foundation grant that funded a full-time Literacy Cooperative staff member and other expenses related to supporting Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read will continue serving children and families in Greater Cleveland through a partnership with Cleveland Public Library.

For the last three years, Lynn Foran, a Literacy Cooperative employee, served as the coordinator of Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland (RORGC). Before her leadership, the 20+ year old organization was completely volunteer-run, but the Bruening Foundation saw an opportunity for growth facilitated by The Literacy Cooperative.

“We knew we wanted to host RORGC with an organization connected to the community, especially as it pertains to early literacy – and that was The Literacy Cooperative,” said Jeanine Gergel of Foundation Management Services, which services The Bruening Foundation.

Gergel said the nearly fifteen-year history of The Literacy Cooperative being Greater Cleveland’s convening agent for partners in literacy made the organization an obvious choice.

The grant is a part of Bruening’s Strong Start initiative, designed to “reduce poverty and expand economic prosperity in Cuyahoga County by investing in efforts that help disadvantaged families ensuring that every child gets a strong start in life.”

It aligns with the mission of Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland, which is to provide a foundation for success through pediatric care, using books and reading aloud to impact the health and development of children and families.

Foran works across the region’s health systems to help pediatricians, family medicine doctors, and nurse practitioners incorporate early literacy guidance into regular checkups and to distribute important information about early literacy and brain development. At each regular visit through the five-year-old checkup, the family has a conversation with their child’s medical provider about how and why it is important to read aloud with their young child, and the child goes home with a new book.

Research finds that children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of others on their vocabulary tests because they are regularly read aloud to. Early foundational language skills like this help children begin strong on a path of success.

One of The Literacy Cooperative’s focus areas is to help support families during their child’s first five years of life and identifying the appropriate message and appropriate messenger is critical. Pediatricians are a trusted source of information for families.

“When Jeanine Gergel and I first talked about this funding it was really a win-win situation,” said Bob Paponetti, President & CEO of The Literacy Cooperative. “We were able to help fortify an already impressive organization and test whether we could leverage the relationship pediatricians have with families to connect them to other important resources in the community.”

The results proved that The Literacy Cooperative and Reach Out and Read could do just that.

Over the past three years, Foran has grown Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland from 23 health system sites to 33 and has facilitated the distribution of 86,000 new books and doctor-parent conversations.

“Having that pediatrician aspect is so important, and The Literacy Cooperative knows that,” Paponetti said. “We need to reach parents and let them know how important reading is to childhood development. We don’t have a relationship with them – but the doctors do. And most parents trust their doctor.”

The organizations worked together with Pre4CLE, Starting Point, and Invest in Children to form the Preschool Prescription initiative. The goal is to increase awareness of and enrollment at quality preschools through pediatrician recommendations using “The Night Before Preschool” book given at the doctor’s office. Since its start, more families are calling Starting Point to learn about quality preschool and enrollment has risen.

Dr. Robert Needlman founded ROR, a national organization, in 1989. He said the partnership with The Literacy Cooperative strengthened Reach Out and Read to be recognized as a critical part of the literacy landscape. 

In 2017, soon after Foran joined The Literacy Cooperative, it became the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. In this program an enrolled child receives a brand new, age-appropriate book in the mail monthly until their fifth birthday. Foran led the design, implementation, and rollout of the program in the Cleveland area during her time at The Literacy Cooperative.

“It was a wonderful collaboration,” Needlman said. “Lynn was able to utilize the Reach Out and Read provider network to connect the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program and integrated the new Preschool Prescription initiative into doctor’s offices to benefit Pre4Cle and Starting Point’s work. We wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own.”

Every month, Dr. Needlman, Foran and Paponetti met to discuss the partnership and future goals. Paponetti said those regular meetings were critical to the success of the partnership – and in the end, launched a partnership that truly supports both organizations’ mission.

In August, Foran took on new responsibilities as Executive Director of ROR Greater Cleveland. Although she is leaving The Literacy Cooperative as a staff member, she will continue as a strong partner. She said she’s excited to watch the organization expand from the connections she’s made in the community, as well as continue collaboration with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and The Literacy Cooperative.

“I’m excited to help more parents understand the importance of reading to a child,” Foran said. “A child’s education begins at birth when the brain is rapidly developing. Snuggling up with an infant, toddler or preschooler to share a book is a joyful way to feed a young brain. Start early, too – don’t wait until they can bring you a book.”

More information about The Literacy Cooperative can be found at www.literacycooperative.org and Reach Out and Read information can be found at http://www.reachoutandreadgc.org/

May 26th, 2016 PechaKucha Event: An Evening of Learning About the Great Literacy Programs In and Around Cleveland

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On Thursday, May 26th, 2016, The Literacy Cooperative in collaboration with the Cleveland Bridge Builders, Class of 2016, coordinated a PechaKucha event. PechaKucha means chit chat in Japanese and is an event where presenters present 20 slides, each for 20 seconds, on a chosen topic.

The topic for our PechaKucha event was, “Helping to Improve Awareness and Literacy Education in Northeast Ohio.” There were seven presenters from eight different organizations around Cleveland who presented on their literacy based programs that combine literature, learning, and literacy with other fun activities. Presenters included: our Executive Director Bob Paponetti, who spoke about the history of The Literacy Cooperative and the work that we do, as well as, Elizabeth Geisse from America SCORES Cleveland, Pam Jankowski with Cuyahoga County Library in partnership with Parma City School District, Debi Abela from University Circle Incorporated, Mahogani Graves with Reach Out and Read/ Ready to Learn at MetroHealth, Daniel Hahn from Playhouse Square and Judi Kovach with Kids Book Bank.

The event was a great way to inform the community about programs and initiatives that incorporate literacy in unique ways that help both children and their families learn. The PechaKucha format provided a way to explore a number of different programs in one evening, giving the community a broad look at all the great work that is being done around our city to advance literacy.

Missed the event and want to experience it? Take a look at our Storify for a recap of the event with pictures and tweets.

Or click on the video below to watch the full event.

 

Want to learn more about the programs and organizations that participated? Check out some of our guest posts here on our blog. Or follow each of the organizations on their social media pages:

 

University Circle- Twitter and Facebook

America SCORES Cleveland- Twitter and Facebook

Reach Out and Read/ Ready to Learn at MetroHealth – Twitter and Facebook

Playhouse Square – Twitter and Facebook

Cuyahoga County Public Library – Twitter and Facebook 

Kids Book Bank – Twitter and Facebook

Parma City School District – Twitter and Facebook

The Literacy Cooperative – Twitter and Facebook 

 

 

 

 

 

Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn Program At MetroHealth Encourages Early Reading Habits

2016 marks The Literacy Cooperative’s 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2016 to showcase community organizations across Greater Cleveland that have incorporated literacy-based programs into their scope of service during the past 10 years.  We asked them to write a post highlighting their journey, featuring their accomplishments, achievements and how they have helped the community learn and grow over the last ten years. We will be featuring the posts throughout the next few months.

This week’s guest post comes from MetroHealth Broadway Health Center written by Mahogani Graves; Site Coordinator. 

Metro Heatlh Reach out and read - child readingDo you love reading? Do you love children? Well, you’ll love the Reach Out & Read/ Ready to Learn Program here at the MetroHealth Broadway Center! Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn was established in September 2014. Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn encourages early reading habits with the parents and children through prescribing books to the families’ through child wellness visits. We have changed our waiting room into a “learning room”!

Metro Health -reach out and read (waiting room)While Reach Out & Read is a national program, our MetroHealth program at Broadway is unique because of our partnership with WVIZ ideastreams Ready to Learn program. Our volunteers engage with both the parents and children in the waiting room by using books, PBS Kids learning apps on iPads, and the PBS Kids TV Station.
Want to know why our program is so awesome? Within our first year, our program prescribed over 3,065 books during 3,000 wellness child visits.  We have had 38 volunteers, including 5 interns complete 1,452 hours interacting with patients in the waiting area. In addition to that, we’ve interacted with 1,824 children and their families alone. It’s so important to have dedicated people who care about our children and want to give back! We’re so proud to have had the opportunity to engage various people to invest time in their community.

Broadway MetroHealth has become a hub in this community. We see thousands of people each and every week. The opportunity that we have to make an impact in families’ lives is truly precious! We have been able to refer many families to neighborhood preschools to make sure that our young ones have a head-start to learning. Other resources related to afterschool activities, summer learning, housing and much more are all added components that we are Metro Health Reach out and Read- Booksable to provide our families day in and day out. The facts are, the challenges that our families face are multifaceted and if we can help to alleviate any issue we are doing a service to the community. That’s why our relationships with other community organizations are so important and is the reason why we have been able to really make an impact.

Learn more about MetroHealth Broadway Health Clinic on their website: http://www.metrohealth.org/broadway

Also be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.