Winter 2019 Newsletter

Winter 2019 Newsletter

February 2019

Volume 2, Issue 1

Winter 2019 Newsletter

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  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    
Eric Nesheim     
Margaret Peterson

Steve Reder       
David J. Rosen   
Jen Vanek           
Gwenn Weaver 

ODC Issues Group

  • Affordable Housing
  • Labor and Workforce Development
  • Public Libraries and Adult Basic Skills
  • Digital Inclusion
  • Health and ABE
  • Safety Net Services Advocacy
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Immigrant and Refugee Education and Integration
  • Public K-12 Education and Intergenerational Literacy

   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.

Steering Committe

The steering committee has been very active in its monthly meetings this quarter, discussing/developing the following activities:

  • ODC activities at the upcoming COABE conference:
    • ODC strand of presentations 
    • ODC members' reception: Tuesday April 2, 5:15-6:45 pm, Sheraton, Lagniappe Room (2nd floor) - members only
    • Developing an Evidence-based Adult Education System, Tuesday April 2nd from 11-12:30, Marriott Hotel, Studio 5, 2nd Floor
  • ODC has become an affiliate of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)
  • ODC continues to search for partner organizations
  • ODC members have submitted ProLiteracy conference presentations and are awaiting information about which ones have been accepted. We also plan to organize a follow-up meeting at the ProLiteracy conference on An Evidence-based Adult Education System.

Communications Committee

This newsletter is one of our major activities this quarter.
​We have also continued to add and update pages on our website:

Our fourth major activity has been planning for the ODC Strand at the upcoming COABE Conference. We will have five presentations there, and we are organizing a national meeting on the need for  “An Evidence-based Adult Education System." 

Issues Groups and Task Force Updates

Criminal Justice Reform

​The CJR Issues Group has prepared a new "Make the Case" paper on the topic of immigration and incarceration.

Labor and Workforce Development

In the past three months, LWD Issues Group members have:

  • Issued four “Can-Do” Guides whose purpose was to increase collaboration between adult basic skills organizations and the following U.S. stakeholder groups:
    • Universities
    • Labor unions
    • Re-entry services (that help former inmates re-integrate into productive roles post-release)
    • Forward-thinking employers
  • Updated a 38-page “Archive of Work-Related Basic Skills Resources.”
  • Posted those resources to the LWD Issues Group’s section of the ODC web site.
  • Submitted successful proposals for two hour-long workshops at the COABE Conference in New Orleans in early April. Members will
    1. describe how urban basic skills programs (in Cleveland and Washington, DC) help adult learners move toward family-sustaining jobs and
    2. summarize research on this topic.  These workshops will be part of a series of sessions presented by ODC members at COABE.
  • Begun planning of a fifth “Can-Do Guide” that will encourage collaborations between environmental organizations and adult basic skills programs.
  • Welcomed new member Judy Mortrude (from the Center for Law and Social Policy).

For further information (and to get involved), please contact LWDI Group Chair, Paul Jurmo, at

Health and Adult Basic Education

Here are some highlights from the Health and ABE Issues Group:

  • The group met on February 5th and plans to meet at the COABE conference
  • We are continuing work on a one-pager for Health and ABE
  • Working with Paul Jurmo we are hopeful to create a “Can Do” paper

Immigrant and Refugee Education and Integration

The Immigrant and Refugee Task Force Welcomes two new members:

  • Janet Kaplan-Bucciarelli, who has worked as an ESOL and adult literacy teacher as well as in philanthropy, film, and higher education, and
  • Federico Salas-Isnardi, an independent trainer/consultant focusing on social justice, diversity, and immigration issues.

Janet is building a consulting practice with the overarching goal of facilitating the learning and development of both adult learners and the many institutions/organizations that offer them a route to a better life. Federico has been working with Immigrant Learning Center at Malden, MA and with the Houston Public Libraries on topics of cultural diversity and social justice as well as with numerous other groups in and beyond the US.  

Continuing member Jen Vanek is on ODC’s Steering Committee, and co-authored our group’s position paper. She’s working with Janet Isserlis, Erik Jacobson, and Heide Wrigley to expand on that paper and submit it for publication in the new ALE Journal. 

Erik Jacobson, a professor at Montclair State University teaches courses on literacy, and is a volunteer ESOL teacher at Make the Road New Jersey, a CBO focused on advocacy. Erik has uploaded some of his ESOL work:

For the broader ODC community:

  • Erik would like to convene an ODC group about adult education and housing issues.
  • Federico would like to see recommendations for how to integrate immigrant and refugee issues in the adult education/literacy classroom while the focus of WIOA is on employment outcomes.

Public Libraries and Adult Basic Skills

The Public Libraries Issues Group will participate in the April COABE conference. Alicia Suskin will be on an ODC panel presenting the Public Libraries Issues Group paper.

The Public Libraries Issues Group Chair, David J. Rosen, welcomes new members. He can be reached at

Digital Inclusion Issues

The Digital Inclusion Issues Group has the following updates:

  • ODC is now affiliated with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)
  • We will have a digital inclusion session at COABE, entitled, At the "Digital Crossroads: The Intersection of Adult Literacy and Digital Inclusion." It is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 1 at 11:15 AM.
  • We have submitted a similar proposal for a session at the ProLiteracy conference, scheduled in September.

Opening the Door to Opportunity for Everyone!