This paper from the Open Door Collective urges adult educators to make common cause with other organizations working to reduce income inequality in American life. NJALL is proud to be a member of the New Jersey Anti-Poverty Network.
Basic Skills for Economic Security:
How Adult Educators, Adult Learners, and Anti-Poverty Organizations Can Work Together
Prepared by Paul Jurmo, Ed.D., Nicholas Montalto, Ph.D., and David J. Rosen, Ed.D.
The Open Door Collective
November 5, 2019
This paper describes why and how anti-poverty organizations and adult basic skills programs can collaborate to help individuals who have basic skills-related challenges (e.g., lower levels of literacy, English language, and numeracy skills needed for work, family, and civic roles; lack of a high school credential; learning disabilities) to improve their economic security and that of their families and communities. In so doing, these partnerships can also contribute to the building of a more equitable, efficient, and sustainable economy. The paper identifies steps that these two stakeholder groups might take to understand and build on existing collaborative models to create new partnerships.
ODC’s Mission and Work
The Open Door Collective (ODC) was formed in 2014 by a small group of adult basic skills educators and researchers who (1) were concerned about the problem of poverty in the United States, (2) saw adult basic skills education as a tool for improving economic security, (3) recognized that this was in keeping with adult basic education’s historic role in earlier social justice movements, and (4) understood that, to effectively help reduce poverty, adult basic education needs to partner with other groups whose mission includes reducing poverty and income inequality.
Since then, ODC’s members have issued a series of Make the Case papers and Can-Do Guides and have made conference presentations showing why and how adult educators can work with other stakeholders in a number of ways to reduce poverty. These other stakeholders can include public libraries; community health centers; and organizations involved with workforce development, digital inclusion, criminal justice reform, public health, immigrant and refugee advocacy and integration, safety net services, housing, disability rights advocacy, environmental sustainability, and other issues. (Visit http://www.opendoorcollective.org to see ODC documents and other resources.)
We define “anti-poverty partners” broadly as organizations and individuals that have as a primary or secondary goal the protection and improvement of the economic security of low-income people. These could include public and private bodies that:
Who Are the Adults with Basic Skills Limitations? How Is their Economic Security at Risk?
An estimated 36 million or more adults in the United States have limitations in their basic skills. They represent a diverse mix of:
These adults can face a number of obstacles to employment and financial well-being:
How Basic Skills Programs Have Helped Learners Enhance their Economic Security
The adults who enroll in basic skills programs often do so with the hope that they will be better able to perform their current jobs better, get a better job, manage their finances, or otherwise improve the economic well-being of themselves and their families. In response, local adult basic education providers use a number of strategies, including:
Why and How Anti-Poverty Groups Might Partner with Adult Basic Skills Programs
By working with adult basic education programs, anti-poverty organizations might be better able to serve populations having basic skills challenges. Similarly, adult educators can better help their low-income learners by tapping into the expertise and other resources of anti-poverty organizations. Here are nine ways these two kinds of organizations might collaborate:
Effective partnerships require good planning and continuous communication and improvements to ensure that joint efforts meet relevant needs of participating organizations and the clients they serve. To get started, anti-poverty and adult basic skills programs should do initial background research about how social justice stakeholders have worked with adult basic skills programs. (See the “ODC Papers” and “Resources” sections of the ODC web site for more information about joint efforts.) For example:
Anti-poverty and adult basic skills organizations have much in common in terms of their missions and the populations they serve. Through new, informed, and creative partnerships that build on past and current efforts, these stakeholders can help more individuals who have basic skills challenges -- and their families and communities -- to improve their economic security and contribute to our common good.
Presenter: Sara Cullinane, Make the Road New Jersey
FEBRUARY 15, 2019, 11:00 AM TO 12 NOON EST
This webinar will begin with an overview of key developments with regards to immigrants' rights and immigration policy at the local, state (New Jersey) and federal level. Participants will then have a chance to discuss the potential impact of key policies on their students and their programs. The presenter will also review how students, teachers and others can get involved in efforts to expand and protect immigrants' rights
Click here to register.
Thousands of New Jersey adults needing basic reading skills, high school diplomas and English language skills are turned away from programs because of inadequate funding. In addition, businesses in New Jersey cannot find literate and trained individuals for their workplace needs.
It is vital for New Jersey’s economy and for our citizenry that we re-establish state funding for adult education to compensate for reductions in federal subsidies.
In 2007 35,400 students were served through a robust network of adult education programs. By 2017 that number had fallen to 16,702.
Providing the necessary state funds to enroll 18,700 more students at $1,000
per student would require a state appropriation of $18,700,000. This appropriation would provide invaluable and life changing opportunities for adults with limited skills. Equally important, it would open up employment opportunities for these individuals and for NJ businesses.
NJALL has developed several tools which you can use when asking your elected representatives to support adult education. Here are several advocacy briefs you can share:
Here are sample letters that you can customize:
Find your New Jersey State representatives through this interactive map.
For more information about NJALL's advocacy efforts, go to our youtube channel to listen to the March 22 webinar: Potential Changes in Federal
Support for Adult Education: What They Mean for New Jersey, What they Mean for Advocacy
Look for more information soon about how we can advocate for State funding for adult education in New Jersey.
Learn about potential changes in Federal support for adult education: what they mean for New Jersey, and what they mean for advocacy. March 22, 2018. 11:00 AM to noon.
Art Ellison (New Hampshire's Director of Adult Education and longtime adult education advocate) will review what is happening at the federal level in terms of adult education funding. Although there is currently an effort to increase funding, it is also possible that funding will be significantly reduced. Art will discuss key points of the legislative process/schedule to keep in mind while planning advocacy efforts.
Hal Beder and Barry Semple (of NJALL) will review what these potential changes mean for adult education in New Jersey and the urgent need for coordinated advocacy across the state.
There will be built-in time to share ideas and ask questions.
The New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning wants to make clear that we stand by our brothers and sisters who are facing the brunt of the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia that has marked the post-election period. As an organization we denounce such behavior as at odds with our standing concern for the health, safety and happiness of our diverse society. Adult education has a long history of fighting for social justice, and this moment calls for a renewed commitment to the field's democratic and egalitarian values. To honor the heritage of the brave learners and teachers that came before us, we must stand up to bigotry and work together to make our communities safe and welcoming.
As you are aware, there have been an alarming number of reports of violence and intimidation targeting selected communities all across the country. We have heard about countless public acts and about more personal forms of aggression carried out by roommates and classmates. It seems that no place has been spared overt and inflammatory acts of bigotry.
For a copy of the complete statement, click here.
African-Americans have been hung in effigy, been called racial slurs to their faces and had their property defaced with racist graffiti. People have been told "get ready to start picking cotton again" and told to move to the back of the bus. Students in one school in Pennsylvania walked down the halls with a Trump sign shouting "White Power." This is not an isolated act, as assertions of white power and white supremacy litter social media. The KKK has already announced a victory parade.
In addition to anger and bigotry aimed at African-Americans, immigrants and US citizens alike have been told to "go back to their country." Children as young as kindergarten have been heard chanting "build the wall!" at their classmates who appear to be immigrants. Muslims, and individuals whom bigots presume to be Muslims, have been physically attacked and threatened with additional violence. Incidents of anti-Semitism have also been reported, with swastikas painted on store fronts and some Nazi flags have been seen flying.
Women have been groped and have been told that now it is legal to sexually harass them. You can even buy hats that repeat Trump's infamous words about grabbing women by their genitalia. In addition, gays, lesbians and transgender people have also been the target of hateful language and threats. Rainbow flags have been set alight while still attached to homes, and cars have been destroyed in order to send the message that the LGBTQ community is not welcome and cannot feel safe.
None of this bigotry is new, but the sheer amount and intensity of the expressions of this hatred has fundamentally changed the country. Almost immediately, millions of our fellow Americans have started to feel increasingly afraid and vulnerable. Now is the time for all of us to stand up to bigotry, intimidation and violence.
Please contact NJALL at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information you would like to share, if you have ideas for actions that we can take to move forward, or if you simply need a place to connect with others who share your concerns.