Open Door Collective

Open Door Collective

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latest webinar

Teaching data literacy, advancing communicative justice with immigrant and refugee communities

Data literacy is essential to empowered decision-making in so many arenas of everyday life — healthcare, schools, work, civic life, and more. This session discusses how learners from immigrant/refugee communities can be supported in developing their data literacy skills. Maricel Santos shares strategies from the  Communicative Justice Initative to develop resources for data literacy teaching and learning in adult literacy/ESOL programs. 

Additional resources:

Advancing Data Literacy for Adult Learners and Democratizing Data

Data Feminism


Download resources for webinar: presentation slides, teacher worksheet and framework outline.

Otters foraging for food id an example of trying to find data literacy skills.

Adult Foundational Education and Affordable Housing 


Download the newest research paper from Open Door Collective.

This document describes the importance of adult foundational education and how it can be integrated into affordable housing settings to address the needs of millions of adults in the United States. The document also includes five appended profiles of a range of examples of such programs. The adults in programs such as these face challenges such as low literacy, limited English proficiency, and lack of high school credentials, which hinder their economic security and ability to navigate essential systems like housing and healthcare. 

Adult Foundational Education (AFE) is a term that describes the field that includes basic literacy, adult basic and secondary level skills, preparation for post-secondary education and English for speakers of other languages. It distinguishes these from credit-bearing post-secondary education. Despite the existence of effective curricula, professional development and technologies for adult foundational education, funding for AFE implementation remains inadequate, with at best 10% of adults in need receiving services annually. The document highlights the potential for AFE programs within affordable housing contexts to address residents' diverse needs such as employment, financial stability, and health literacy. 

You will find this document at: Adult Foundational Education and Affordable Housing

ODC Getting a seat at the table



Provide opportunities for national dialogue and discussion about adult foundational education’s intersection with other sectors to support social and economic justice.



“A future where adult foundational education (e.g. adult literacy, basic skills adult secondary education, English for immigrants or refugees) is an integral part of achieving social and economic justice”


poverty alleviation efforts

The Open Door Collective (ODC) is dedicated to reshaping U.S. society to have dramatically less poverty and economic inequality and more civic engagement and participation in all our society has to offer. As professionals working in adult education, social services and poverty reduction, ODC members believe that adult foundational (basic) skills education and lifelong learning programs can help open the doors of opportunity for everyone to healthier, more prosperous and satisfying lives.  ODC members have expertise in connecting adult foundational skills to employment and training, health care, and family and social services.  We believe that helping all adults to acquire and use English language, basic literacy, numeracy, high school equivalency, college readiness, and technology skills will improve everyone’s economic outcomes, broaden social participation and move us much closer to the kind of society in which we all want to live.

Our People

Jamie Harris

Theresa Sladek, MA, is the Strategic Partnerships and Northstar Business Development Manager at Literacy Minnesota and works with organizations to ascertain and implement their digital literacy needs. Theresa also works with Literacy Minnesota’s national Open Door Collective program on poverty reduction through literacy.  Prior to this, she developed statewide training on Navigation related to adult persistence. Theresa has a BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College and a MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She worked as a counselor, project manager and corporate trainer before joining the field of education.

Lecester Johnson

Lecester Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of Academy of Hope, a nonprofit adult public charter school. Academy of Hope empowers over 500 adults in the process of earning a high school credential and building foundational skills. Lecester’s passion for education began at the early age of twelve when she held her first class for her four siblings to prevent learning loss over summer break. Since then, Lecester has further supported education and workforce development, including assisting with the initial re-establishment of the DC Public Schools vocational evaluation program. She holds a master's and an education specialist (Ed.S) degree in transition special education and severe emotional disturbance from The George Washington University. In 2011, Lecester earned the Meyer Exponent Award for excellence in nonprofit management. She can be reached at:


Holly McCoy

Holly McCoy is the Executive Director of Literacy Services of Wisconsin. Ms. McCoy holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education and a Master of Arts in Adult Education, both from Alverno College. She has developed several innovative High School Equivalency Diploma programs. One of those programs, a new Construction HSED created in partnership with WRTP/BIG STEP, won a collaboration award at LISC’s annual MANDI Awards event and was recognized as an innovative practice by the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. McCoy has led two mergers and worked with her colleagues to make the agency a top-quartile AEFLA performer. Previous to her current role, she served as the Senior Director of Programs for Literacy Services, overseeing the programmatic operations of eight Milwaukee Area locations serving approximately 1,300 adult students annually. Ms. McCoy serves on several community committees related to adult literacy and workforce development. She can be reached at 


Eric Nesheim

Eric serves as Managing Director - Digital Strategies at Literacy Minnesota. 

Eric has served in various program and management roles at Literacy Minnesota since 1990, prior to being named executive director in 2000. In addition, he is currently on the Governor's Workforce Development Council. He was a founding member and past president of the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium, and serves on its executive committee. He has also served on the Adult Basic Education (ABE) Policy Task Force, on the ABE Teacher Licensure Task Force and as a member of the Governor’s Taskforce on Reading Excellence. Eric is a registered lobbyist and former president of Literacy Minnesota, an advocacy group for adult literacy.

Eric began his human services career by serving in the Peace Corps in Haiti and Paraguay. He earned his B.A. from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, and a Master’s of International Management from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

He can be reached at


David J. Rosen

David J. Rosen holds a doctorate in education evaluation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  He was Executive Director of the Adult Literacy Resource Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, from 1986 to 2003. As an independent consultant since 2003, he has recently provided education and evaluation services to, among other organizations: TERC, as an evaluator of the Massachusetts SABES adult basic education mathematics professional development center; Essential Education, to develop an online guide to blended learning for adult educators; and with Strategy Matters, to the City of Boston to assist in planning the Office of Workforce Development’s Career Pathways Initiative. He is the moderator of two U.S. Department of Education-sponsored LINCS communities of practice: Integrating Technology; and Program Management. David was the evaluator of English Now, a pilot nonformal education blended learning model sponsored by World Education’s Education Tech Center and Peer to Peer University, that provided English language instruction to adults on waiting lists for English classes. He is an advisor to the English Now! national scale-up project that began in the fall of 2018. David is a co-founder of the Open Door Collective. He can be reached at


Theresa Sladek

Theresa Sladek, MA, is the Strategic Partnerships and Northstar Business Development Manager at Literacy Minnesota and works with organizations to ascertain and implement their digital literacy needs. Theresa also works with Literacy Minnesota’s national Open Door Collective program on poverty reduction through literacy.  Prior to this, she developed statewide training on Navigation related to adult persistence. Theresa has a BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College and a MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She worked as a counselor, project manager and corporate trainer before joining the field of education.


Gwenn Weaver

Gwenn Weaver is an independent management consultant, recently retired from working as a broadband program specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  She served as federal program officer for NTIA's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), and staffed the development of the federal Digital Literacy Portal (  Presently, she is participating in a project for a ProLiteracy, serving on the Committee on Literacy of the American Library Association, and is a national advisor to the Great Stories program of the ALA.  Prior to joining NTIA, she was a vice president at a higher education consulting practice, and has worked for other federal government agencies, two large research universities, several consulting firms and a major bank.  She began her career in libraries, having been a public, school, academic and special librarian.  She holds a Master of Business Administration in information systems, Master of Science in Library Science, Bachelor of Arts in sociology and an Associate of Arts degree. She can be reached at


Join the odc

Lecester Johnson |

Holly McCoy |

Eric Nesheim |

David J. Rosen |

Federico Salas-Isnardi |

Gwenn Weaver |


Join the odc

Who OUR FIELD serveS


1 in 3 adults would benefit from literacy support


The need for literacy 48.6% literacy and/or math, 20.7% a lot of help, 19.0% ESOL, 6.9% a little help, 6.7% ASE

The PIAAC assessment found that one in three (42.1 million) US adults report that they speak or write English not well or not at all, have low literacy or math skills, or do not have a high school credential.

- An Open Door Out of Poverty, 2021


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Woman with headphones working at computer

Digital Inclusion

Group sitting at table

Health and AFE

Two women doing skills training together at a table

Labor and Workforce Development

Dad and son in learning environment

Immigrant and Refugee Education and Integration

Woman reading book with child

Public Libraries and Adult Foundational Skills

Picture of multiple apartment complexes.

Affordable Housing

Justice scales statue

Criminal Justice Reform

Two people working on adult foundational skills

Advancing Adult Foundational Education

 Recommended Readings and Resources

Open Door Collective Recommended Readings and Resources


The Open Door Collective (ODC) seeks to bridge isolated adult basic skills education and poverty reduction advocacy efforts.  By sharing information about the key issues and programs in each area, we hope to facilitate more collaboration and innovation, leading to greater success for these communities.  


Open Door Collective’s “Make the case” for adult basic skills initiative. Learn more about it 



Poverty Reduction Advocacy Community. For those working in, or advocating for, poverty reduction and increased opportunity efforts, we suggest readings and resources that explain why and how adult basic skills education can help. Readings and Resources about Adult Education for Advocates of Poverty Reduction and Increased Opportunity 


Community Health Advocacy Community. For those working in, or advocating for, community health, and reduction of health disparities for low-income and immigrant families, we suggest these readings and resources. Readings and Resources about Adult Basic Skills Education for Community Health Advocates


Adult Foundational (Basic) Skills Advocacy Community. For adult educators, we recommend resources and readings to help them tailor programs to collaborate with poverty reduction and opportunity initiatives.  Readings and Resources for Adult Educators about Poverty Reduction and Increased Opportunity


Downloadable Slides from Presentations about the Open Door Collective at conferences


Please provide your comments on these readings and other resources, and suggest additional readings and other resources using the ODC Contact page .


Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) analysis of the 2014 Census Bureau Poverty Data


August 2020


  • Marcia Drew Hohn, Ed.D, Consultant in Literacy and Health, Massachusetts
  • Greg Smith, MS, Executive Director, Florida Literacy Coalition
  • David J. Rosen, Ed.D, Consultant and Founding Member, Open Door Collective
  • Emma Keating, Digital Communications Specialist, The Literacy Cooperative, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Paul Jurmo, Ed.D, Consultant and Chair of the Open Door Collective’s Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group, District of Columbia


September 2020


  • Alex Risley Schroeder: Principal, Finding Earth works; Massachusetts
  • Barbara Krol-Sinclair: Director of Adult Learning, Chelsea, Massachusetts Public Schools Intergenerational Literacy Program
  • David J. Rosen, Consultant and Founding Member of the Open Door Collective
  • Emma Keating, Digital Communications specialist, The Literacy Cooperative, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Paul Jurmo, Consultant and Chair of the Open Door Collective Labor and workforce Development Issues Group

Recording         Slides

May 2021


  • Eric Nesheim, Executive Director, Literacy Minnesota
  • David J. Rosen, Consultant and Founding Member of the Open Door Collective
  • Theresa Sladek, Literacy Minnesota


February 2022


  • Dr. John Comings, Massachusetts


June 2022


  • Mary Joan Reutter, Esq.


February 2023


  • Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, CEO and Founder, Cell-Ed
  • Jenny Munoz, New York State Office for New Americans
  • Liz Hughes, Rosie’s Place, Boston, MA
  • Xavier Munoz, Director of Academic Programs and Student Services, English Empowerment Center, Literacy Council of Northern Virginia


July 2023


  • Anthony Tassi, CEO, Literacy Partners, New York City, Co-creator of We Are New York Emmy award-winning video series


October 2023


  • Dr. Maricel Santos, Professor, San Francisco State University


March, 2024


  • Dr. Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University, New Jersey


May 2024


  • Sierra Stoneman-Bell, Literacy and Justice Initiative, Literacy Assistance Center, NYC
  • Suzette Siewerd, Masa. NYC
  • Brian Mendes, Fifth Avenue Committee, NYC



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