Fall 2019 Newsletter

Fall 2019 Newsletter

October 2019

Volume 2, Issue 3

Fall Newsletter

  The Open Door Collective (ODC) assists poverty reduction initiatives to take advantage of, expand, or improve adult basic skills services to meet the needs and broaden the economic opportunities of low-income adults. We advocate for effective policies and program designs that will reduce poverty, narrow income inequality, and provide free basic skills education for all adults in the United States. Improved policies and programs will enable adults living in poverty to increase their incomes as well as enjoy more economic stability and better health. These outcomes will diminish the need for social services, increase tax revenues, and lower overall healthcare costs. Expanded adult basic skills services will, therefore, pay for themselves.

Steering Committee Members

John Comings             john.comings@gmail.com
Margaret Patterson margaret@researchallies.org 
Jen Vanek                    Jen_vanek@worlded.org
Eric Nesheim              enesheim@mnliteracy.org
Steve Reder                stevereder@gmail.com
David J. Rosen            djrosen123@gmail.com
Gwenn Weaver          gwwork50@gmail.com

See http://www.opendoorcollective.org/steering-committee.html  for details on Steering Committee members

Issues Groups and Task Force Updates:

​Note: Issues Group names shortened to make menu navigable.

   ODC's mission is to help adult basic skills advocates make common cause with advocates for other issues (health, employment, incarceration, libraries, etc.) in order to build an integrated approach to ending poverty. The ODC advocacy issues groups, therefore, are the engines of ODC's efforts. They produce advocacy papers, presentations, and videos that set out the common cause within each ODC issue group. We do this because we believe that the efforts taking place within other issue areas will be more successful if adult basic skills advocates and practitioners support them and they support adult basic skills. In addition, we believe that an integrated approach to ending poverty that includes adult basic skills and all of the other issues groups is the only way to be successful.

Special Announcement

   This announcement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may be of interest since it focuses on new opportunities to solve the problem of poverty in the U.S.
Dear friend,

   In the year since the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched its Economic Mobility and Opportunity program, we have learned a great deal from work with our partners about the stark reality of America’s economic divide. We have made significant investments to help communities diagnose mobility barriers using data, support local leaders in developing economic mobility strategies, and fund interventions to help strengthen vulnerable workers’ connections to the labor market. 

   Today, we are joining with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Raikes Foundation to launch “Voices for Economic Opportunity,” a call for ideas to change inaccurate and debilitating stereotypes about poverty in the U.S. This is an effort to gather creative, compelling ideas from individuals and organizations across all sectors in the United States, to help elevate diverse voices and broaden the national conversation about the nature of poverty and economic mobility. Solving the problem of poverty requires a true understanding and telling of how people experience it.

   This call for ideas engages the same Grand Challenges platform that we have employed to support our Global Health and Development programs. We are asking anyone from anywhere – and especially those with lived experienced navigating poverty –  to send us their ideas about how to change the discourse about poverty in the United States. Based on the decisions of external reviewers, we will award multiple grants of $100,000 each. You can read more about the Grand Challenge here.

   We know that it is only by relying on the partnership of leaders in the field who have been at this far longer than we have that we can hope to make progress. This is one step in one strategy, but we hope it is a contribution toward our shared goal. I hope you might be willing to share the call for ideas with your networks and encourage organizations to apply. 

Thank you for your help and support.

Ryan Rippel
Director, Economic Mobility and Opportunity
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Committee Reports

Steering Committee

   The Steering Committee met once a month.  Its major focus has been on helping steer the E-BAES (Evidence-Based Adult Education System) project, whose task force is led by two steering committee members, Margaret Patterson and Eric Nesheim.  Other ongoing issues discussed by the Steering Committee include finding organizational partners and resources to support ODC’s work and thinking about how to deal with continuing membership growth and broadening of interest groups.

Communications Committee

   The ODC Communications Committee continues to help produce the quarterly internal newsletter, led by Rob Sheppard, and sent to all current ODC members before the upcoming quarterly members' meeting. From it, an external newsletter is posted on our website (under the newsletters tab) by Cristhian Barcelos and e-mailed to those who are interested in the ODC but are not members. This past quarter, we have welcomed all new members to the ODC by personal email, and sent them copies of our spring newsletter and information about our upcoming members' meeting on October 3rd. We have worked with the ODC E-BAES task force, co-chaired by Steering Committee members Margaret Patterson and Eric Nesheim, to publicize the one-page E-BAES update that was distributed at the National Coalition Meeting in September and will be distributed at the ProLiteracy and AAACE conferences in September and October, and at the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy Summit in November.

   We have worked with the Chair of the ODC Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group, Paul Jurmo, to edit some of their publications, to upload newer versions of several of their publications, and prepare a description of the ODC that we hope will soon appear on the New Jersey Anti-poverty Network website. This is an effort of ODC members in New Jersey who are also members of the New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning (NJALL): Nick Montalto, Eric Jacobson, Cristhian Barcelos, and Alisa Belzer.

David J. Rosen, Chair, ODC Communications Committee

Issues Groups and Task Force Reports

Immigrant and Refugee Education and Integration

   Jen Vanek submitted a coauthored piece to the ALE Journal, which is an expansion on our position paper on the website that Heide Spruck Wrigley, Erik Jacobson and Janet Isserlis co-authored.  Janet has also been viewing with interest any conversations about Census 2020 and efforts around the country to educate ABE learners on the importance of participation in the census. We encourage you to check out the NCL website for updates about resources.

   Burr Guthrie reports that his Adult Ed program is involved in various Census 2020 committee activities. He reports that most of their immigrant students (about 1,000) are wary of participation in the census. It's going to be a hard sell, with or without the citizenship question. Southwestern states may very well loose representation and dollars. 

   Federico Salas-Isnardi, Erik Jacobsen and Tesa Leon will be presenting work at the ProLiteracy Conference; Federico continues training work around counteracting hate and anti-immigrant rhetoric in community settings, including communities of faith.

   Rhode Island has a small but relatively active network of providers and practitioners utilizing a listserv to share local and federal news around immigration action, policy and events.

Labor and Workforce Development

   The Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group has had a quiet summer after a busy year-plus of generating documents and making conference presentations.  Since our last report to ODC members, we have been updating three of our “Can-Do Guides” and our “Archive of Work-Related Basic Skills Resources.”  We hope to post those updated documents to the “Resources” section of the ODC website within the next month.  Some Group members have also been co-writing (with input from other ODC members) a paper on how adult educators can work with anti-poverty organizations to help adult learners strengthen their economic security.  Watch for this paper on the ODC website in the coming weeks.  We are also in the process of organizing a conference call of LWD Issues Group members for sometime in October.  The purpose of the call will be to plan the Group’s activities for the coming year.  The LWD Issues Group invites other ODC members to share ideas with us, collaborate with us, and recruit new members for our Group.

Evidence-Based Adult Education System Task Force

   The Evidence-Based Adult Education System (E-BAES) effort is sponsored by the Open Door Collective. A volunteer E-BAES task force was convened and began meeting in June 2019. The task force consists of 30+ researchers, practitioners, government officials, professional developers, and non-profit / for-profit education leaders.

   As volunteer guides for the task force, ODC steering committee members Eric Nesheim and Margaret Patterson divided the work into four interest areas: agenda issues for research,  models for a national research center, resource generation, and advocacy for research.
In addition to three full task force meetings, five interest area meetings occurred in July and three in August. By the end of August, the E-BAES task force had drafted a framework. Components of the draft framework include:

  • a proposed model for E-BAES work,
  • organizing principles,
  • ideas for research collaboration in and out of the adult education field, and
  • short-term and long-term research needs

   The task force also began the work of prioritizing research topics and questions for future E-BAES work and started to consider potential approaches for funding.

   E-BAES work will continue in fall 2019, sharing the task force’s draft E-BAES framework and taking additional input from the field.  The next E-BAES stakeholder sessions are:

  • September 26, 11:15 AM, at ProLiteracy conference in San Diego,
  • October 8, 2 PM, at AAACE conference in St. Louis, and
  • November 13, TBD, at National Summit on Adult Literacy in Washington, DC.

   Following those meetings, the task force will meet to solidify the E-BAES framework and prepare for future E-BAES development. To get updates on E-BAES, please register here. ​

Older Adults

   The Older Adults Issues Group is in the fact-finding stage currently, including determining what definition of "older adult" makes the most sense in this context. We have broken out into four sub-groups (digital literacy, society/family, health literacy, financial literacy). In each sub-group, information is being gathered around current research in this area in regard to older adults. Potential areas for exploration include:

  1. What is the impact of this sub-issue on older adults and/or society as a whole?
  2. What compelling research already exists that highlights the relationship between adult basic skills and each sub-area (as it relates to older adults)?
  3. What are the financial costs or other impacts related to this issue?
  4. What are compelling arguments that adult education provides potential solutions to the problems associated with this issue? 
  5. What questions are still unanswered? 

   Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 8 at 2pm Central time. Please contact Becky DeForest or Melanie Sampson if you would like to join.