Winter 2020 Newsletter

Winter 2020 Newsletter

Winter 2020

Volume 3, Issue 1

Winter Newsletter


Special Announcement

Open Door Collective – Literacy Minnesota Partnership

The Open Door Collective Steering Committee reached agreement in December about the future home of Open Door Collective. After exploring several options, the Steering Committee unanimously agreed to become a program of the Minnesota Literacy Council. This relationship offers ODC the ability to write grants, hire and/or share staff and access all the administrative/technical supports of a mid-sized non-profit. ODC will retain its own steering committee, logo and web presence but will be included under the Literacy Minnesota Council umbrella. In late January, the Minnesota Literacy Council will be announcing a name change: its new name will be Literacy Minnesota (ODC is the first group to hear this officially) and it will launch a new website and logo.

The Steering Committee has been impressed by the ongoing work of Literacy Minnesota (LM), which includes expertise in Adult Basic Education curriculum, volunteer management and digital literacy (Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment). However, the Steering Committee believes that it’s Literacy Minnesota’s mission, vision and strategic direction that will best convey why it’s a good fit for Open Door Collective.

Literacy Minnesota’s mission is to share the power of learning through education, community building and advocacy. We believe literacy has the power to advance equity and justice, and we envision a society where life-changing literacy is within everyone’s reach.


Some Background on the Minnesota Literacy Council (Literacy Minnesota)

The Minnesota Literacy Council, soon to be renamed Literacy Minnesota (LM), strengthens the work of large and small organizations and serves Minnesotans young and old in order to improve opportunities for all in our communities. LM has a comprehensive approach to literacy. Many organizations help people improve their literacy skills. Others focus exclusively on work like training and advocacy. LM is one of the few literacy nonprofits in the country that does both. LM’s goals are to: (1) strengthen organizations by providing training, technical assistance and other resources; (2) serve Minnesotans by delivering exceptional programs for children, adults and families; and (3) advocate for the literacy cause locally and nationally.

Within Minnesota, LM reaches 64,000 people and assist 468 community programs each year. Nationwide, we support nearly 800 organizational subscribers to our Northstar Digital Literacy program which has offered more than 4 million assessments since its inception. Additionally, LM reaches hundreds of Adult Basic Education practitioners through conference presentations and provide quality Adult Basic Education curriculum and teaching resources that saw 226,000 downloads last year.

More information about Literacy Minnesota is available on its website.

We have a Twitter account!

You can find our account here.

Please follow, retweet, and tag us with news that is relevant to the ODC's work!


Issues Groups and Task Force Reports

Health and ABE Issues Group

In October, the academic journal Health Literacy Research and Practice (HLRP) published a special edition focused on health literacy and adult basic education.  This included the article Adult Basic Education: Community Health Partnerships and Health Disparities, which was largely derived from an earlier ODC whitepaper on health literacy. The edition also included separate articles co-authored Health and ABE Issues Group members Michele Erickson, Marcia Drew Hohn, Maricel Santos, and Kathy Harris. Congratulations to all!

Special thanks to Paul Jurmo for taking the lead on a new ODC Can Do Paper Strengthening Public Health and the Healthcare Workforce released in late September. This paper does a wonderful job examining why how U.S. adult basic skills programs can collaborate with health partners to support public health, education and healthcare career opportunities.


This Fall, Greg Smith assumed the role as Chair of the Issues Group, taking over for Dena Giacometti, who started a new position. Thanks Dena for all of your efforts! The Issues Group, which met in December, recently advocated for the inclusion of upcoming PIACC county level data as one of the data sets used by the University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s nationally regarded County Health Rankings. The program will be considering our request once the data is released.


Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group

LWD Issues Group members have drawn on our previous 18 months of work to:

  • Participate in a LINCS Correctional and Reentry Education on-line panel on December 3rd that discussed issues raised in our Group’s “What Re-Entry Services Can Do to Strengthen the Basic Skills of Returning Inmates” Can-Do Guide and the “Make the Case’ paper of ODC’s Criminal Justice Reform Issues Group.
  • Begin planning a 2020 COABE Conference workshop on our “Greening U.S Adult Basic Skills Efforts” Can-Do Guide.
  • Contribute to the November 2019 ODC publication “Basic Skills for Economic Security: How Adult Educators, Adult Learners, and Anti-Poverty Organizations Can Work Together.”
  • Have its “Archive of Work-Related Basic Skills Resources” positively reviewed in the Adult Literacy Education Journal and write two articles for upcoming issues of that Journal and an additional article for the COABE Journal.
  • Submit ideas to ODC’s E-BAES Task Force and Older Adults Issues Group.
  • Prepare a strategic plan for our Group’s 2020 activities.  Options include using Twitter to publicize ODC publications, compiling and disseminating “success stories” of adult learners who have improved their economic security, submitting recommendations to the presidential campaigns, holding regular Group calls, and strengthening advocacy efforts for work-related basic skills.

New members welcomed!


Evidence-Based Adult Education System Task Force

The E-BAES taskforce met on January 6 to reflect on feedback from VALUEUSA about the proposed model for E-BAES and potential research topics/questions. The taskforce appreciated hearing the perspectives of adult learners. The other agenda item was considering next steps for E-BAES, including the possibility of seeking funding for initial leadership and a small advisory group to plan future E-BAES projects. Several taskforce members have volunteered to assist with funding proposal development to move E-BAES forward.


Criminal Justice Reform Issues Group

CRJ welcomes Dianna Sanchez as a member! Dianna is executive director of the Literacy Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. She joins members Janet Isserlis, Bill Muth, Amy Rose, and Lionel Smith. The issues group continues work on its next make-the-case paper.


Older Adults Issues Group

Currently, the Older Adults Issues Group is in the process of developing a brief Make the Case Paper, highlighting reasons why stakeholders must be careful to include older learners when advocating for and crafting policy around adult education programs. We are focusing on older adults’ literacy and its relationship to three main equity issues: digital literacy, health literacy, and community engagement. We will showcase data that makes clear the negative implications for the greater community when literacy needs of older adults are not met. Our aim in highlighting the ways that literacy affects the lives of older adults is to motivate stakeholders to ensure this population’s access as we work to build a more equitable society.  It’s in the public’s best interest to ensure that older adults have access to adult education experiences, regardless of their status in the workforce or their relative likelihood of entering higher education and training.


Our next meeting is TBD in February. Contact Melanie Sampson at or Becky DeForest with questions.