Fall 2020 Newsletter

Fall 2020 Newsletter

Quarterly Updates
Spring 2020


We will have one member reporting on local activities involving adult basic skills and reduction of poverty, an update and discussion about some new ODC webinars, an update on our Steering Committee plans for creating an ODC draft strategic plan, and an opportunity to comment on a new, short draft mission statement, and to suggest your thought for an ODC Vision Statement.


Mission and Vision

At the September 21st Quarterly members' meeting, as a part of the Steering Committee's efforts to develop a strategic plan for the ODC, members will be asked to react to this one-sentence draft statement of the ODC mission:

  The Open Door Collective (ODC)  
  strengthens poverty reduction initiatives  
  by enhancing the foundational (basic) skills of adults  

  so they can meet their education needs  
  and broaden their economic opportunities.  

Comments about this can be shared at the meeting or can be emailed to odc.opportunity@gmail.com

Members will also be asked to think about this question related to creating a vision statement for the ODC:

“Considering the draft mission statement above, what would you consider to be a success for the Open Door Collective 10 or 15 year from now? How would the lives of our stakeholders be different with regard to poverty and inequality? How would the field be different?”

We hope to have some members' ideas that the Steering Committee can use to draft a vision statement to present at the January 2021 Quarterly Members meeting, or earlier if possible.

The Steering Committee has also created a set of criteria to be used in approving ODC papers and policy statements for dissemination through its website and public media:

The paper or policy statement must meet the following criteria:

  • It is aligned with the ODC mission, to reduce poverty or income inequality in the U.S.
  • Where needed, it refers to and properly cites current evidence or research.
  • It identifies its authors and, where relevant, others who have reviewed or given input.
  • It includes the publication date.
  • It indicates that it was written by (at least one) member(s) of the Open Door Collective, a national program of Literacy Minnesota, and
  • It includes the ODC website address for further information.

The following criteria may also be considered:

  • It describes ways to improve and/or expand the field of adult foundational skills (adult basic skills) to reduce poverty or income inequality in the U.S.
  • If it focuses on a particular challenge in another field such as immigrant or refugee rights, community health, digital inclusion, criminal justice, or workforce development, it makes clear what that challenge is, and how it is related to reducing poverty or income inequality and to adult foundational skills.
  • If it focuses on a particular challenge, it describes how the challenge can be met, for example if it is addressed to legislators or other policy makers,
  • it describes what specific policies the ODC would like to see.
  • If it focuses on (a) particular group(s) of people, such as working poor, older adults, incarcerated individuals, or immigrants or refugees, it makes clear who they are, and how addressing their needs is related to reducing poverty or income inequality and to improving or increasing adult foundational skills.
  • If it refers specifically to adult learners, it describes them in respectful ways, as a valuable national, state or community resource; as people who themselves or whose families deserve or will benefit from the proposed policies; as people who, with the supports they need, will be successful; and/or as people who have positive contributions to make to their communities, states, our society, or our country.
  • If it focuses on a particular kind of service delivery organization, such as a public library, community-based organization, public school system, community college, or corrections institution, it describes the kind of organization, agency or institution, and its role in delivering adult foundational skills services.
  • If it proposes change, it describes why what it proposes is better than other or current strategies for reducing poverty or income inequality, or how it will improve the quality of or expand the numbers served in adult foundational skills programs.


Committee, Issues Group and Task Force Reports


Steering Committee

The Steering Committee met several times during the quarter to talk about a range of important issues. The Steering Committee considered policies for its own decision-making, for publications showing ODC affiliations, criteria for approval of ODC papers and policy statements disseminated through its website and social media, and steps in the overall strategic planning process for ODC, starting with a review of its mission statement and vision.

There will be some initial discussion of the ODC mission and vision at the upcoming quarterly Members Meeting. Members interested in participating in interviews and advisory roles as part of the strategic planning process should email odc.opportunity@gmail.com.


Membership and Communications

The ODC Communications and Membership Committees have merged  into one committee. We have been active, and continue to seek new members. Contact David J. Rosen, to join. We put a banner on the ODC website

  The Open Door Collective stands against  
  police murder, brutality, and unjustifiable suspicion  
  of Black Americans and other Americans of color,  
  and against the systemic racism that contributes  
  in profound and multifaceted ways to poverty. 

With the help of Paul Jurmo, we created an ODC webinar series. The first one, Addressing Health Disparities: What Health Practitioners and Adult Educators Can Do Together, held on August 4th, was a great success. The next one, Greening U.S. Adult Basic Skills Efforts: What Eco-partners and Adult Educators Can Do Together,  is coming up on September 24th, 2:00 P.M, Eastern Time. See the ODC website landing page for more information.

We welcome your suggestions — and help —in offering more webinars.  We plan to add two new Facebook pages soon, a private internal one for ODC members, and one for the general public to learn about the ODC and what we are doing. These will both be managed by ODC Communications and Membership Committee member Ari James. To learn more about these, and actively participate in them, please contact Ari at Ari@ardmoreliteracyleadership.com


We are on LinkedIn!

You can find our page here

Show your ODC pride and help us to promote our work by following our page and listing your membership under the Volunteering section of your profile.



Criminal Justice Reform

CJR members are putting the finishing touches on a third brief, which makes the case that foundational skills education is a fundamental right for incarcerated and reentering adults. The brief offers information on education and recidivism, variability and standards in correctional programming, and the range of correctional programming in education. The intended audience for the brief is adult educators, those serving adult learners in the criminal justice system, librarians, and related stakeholders. The brief recommends multiple solutions, drawn from the research literature, in support of foundational skills education as a fundamental right for incarcerated adults and as an important asset to the communities in which re-entering adults live and seek work. The brief will be submitted for ODC steering committee review in mid-September.


Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group

Since our last ODC newsletter, LWDIG members have – like the rest of our field – adjusted to the realities of our current era.  Members are working in local and national adult basic education programs, writing articles for adult education journals, and advocating for new adult education funding and policies. 

LWDIG members have also worked with other ODC groups to organize the first webinars offered by ODC.  The first was held during the COABE virtual conference on June 29th, focusing on the topic of how adult education programs can work with supporters of environmental sustainability.   The second, run on August 4th in collaboration with ODC’s Health and ABE Issues Group, discussed how adult educators can collaborate with public health programs.  And, on September 24th, we will offer an updated version of the June 29th “environmental partnerships” webinar.   All ODC members are very much encouraged to participate in that September 24th webinar and to spread the word among their colleagues (Register Here).
 To learn more about ODC and its environment-related resource materials, please click here

A new member joined our group this week, Claire Balani of the New Jersey office of the International Rescue Committee, and we continue to welcome other new members interested in developing adult education as a tool for economic security and a more equitable, healthy, and environmentally sustaining economy. 

For further information, please contact LWDI Group Chair, Paul Jurmo


Immigrant and Refugee Integration

The Immigrant and Refugee Education and Integration Issues group has little to report at this time. The Group has two new members. We're reflecting and considering what work we can do in support of ODC's broader mission and purposes and also invite input from the broader ODC community.


Evidence-Based Adult Education System Task Force

The E-BAES taskforce met September 3 and recapped the late July publication of the pandemic report, COVID-19 Rapid Response Report from the Field that ProLiteracy, the E-BAES taskforce, and the EdTech Center @ World Education compiled. The report includes information gathered and compiled to describe adult education’s response to the pandemic. The taskforce is considering a potential second phase of the pandemic information gathering. An important issue is being able to identify what has gone well and what has not gone well as adult education programs have planned for and started the current academic year.

The taskforce also discussed the history of funding for adult education research and of current potential funding opportunities that taskforce members know about. For future planning efforts, a small short-term committee will begin reviewing the previous work toward identifying a research agenda, as well as the extensive feedback from stakeholders last fall, with the charge to make recommendations on a proposed research agenda to the full taskforce at a later date.


Older Adults 

The Older Adults Issues Group met several times over the summer and is working to complete two main tasks this fall. The first is a brief graphic resource page highlighting key themes overlapping literacy and impacts on older adults: technology, health, and community. We hope to pair this resource with a series of related social media posts to drive interest to the Open Door Collective website. The second is a survey we hope to send to a sampling of adult educators to gain a snapshot of the needs of older adults in the adult literacy space during the current pandemic climate. Contact Melanie at melanie@litworks.org or Becky at beckydeforest@gmail.com if you would like to join this group or attend the next meeting.


Health and ABE

Representatives of the Health and ABE Issues Group joined in presenting the ODC sponsored July webinar entitled Addressing Health Disparities: What Health Partners and Adult Educators Can Do Together.  A subcommittee of our group is currently working on preparing a proposal for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on digital health literacy.


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The World Education EdTech Center, with the help of ODC members, is spearheading an effort to gather information about how adult basic skills and ESOL programs in the US have adjusted instruction and services in response to the pandemic. Please support this effort by disseminating this request for participation within your networks. For more information, see the ODC front page announcement under What's New?