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.
Every year NJALL recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of adult education. Meet this year's winners and find out how to nominate someone for 2020!
Lee Snowiss, Adult Basic Education Instructor at Brookdale Community College for 27 years was named NJALL 2019 Teacher of the Year. Lee, in the center, is flanked by her director Linda Roma and Dr. Joan Scocco. Across the years Lee made herself available to meet with newly hired instructors, sharing words of wisdom and inviting them to observe her classroom and instructional interaction with students. She has been a passionate advocate for students by seeking and obtaining services and support from across the college community. Among many great students, Pasang Schreck was one of Lee’s own. In 2019 Pasang was the first NJALL scholarship recipient to be recognized for graduating from college with her bachelor’s degree.
Judith Fitzpatrick, ESL Instructor, Greater Bergen Community Action in Hackensack also received the NJALL 2019 Teacher of the Year Award. Judy was nominated by her director, Figen Tabakci, pictured on the left. With the vast experience and expertise that she has, Judy was the ‘go to’ ESL instructor for ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and solutions to ESL teaching challenges for our other instructors. She had an ‘open door’ policy for other instructors who requested to observe her class and current and former students who many times came to ask her suggestions, or just to visit her.
The 2019 NJALL Lifelong Learning Award was awarded to Jacinta Vilas of the Paterson Adult and Continuing Education program (PACE). Nominated by Nora Hoover and Susan Ronga, Jacinta had herself been a student at PACE. She has been a personal inspiration to thousands of students and has a total understanding of the challenges and demands faced by staff, students and administrators alike. When a consortium partner was struggling, Jacinta created and provided professional development to share PACE’s successful programming and instructional strategies with the sister agency. Today that program is a thriving part of the adult education community.
2020 Award Nominations
NJALL is again asking for nominations from our network of professionals and participating organizations for the following:
1. Barry Semple Lifelong Learning Leadership Award
This award, named for our own Dr. Barry Semple who has been a NJALL leader since 1963, will be given to an outstanding individual or group demonstrating responsibility, influence, courage, motivation, inspiration, direction or guidance, and has made an outstanding contribution to lifelong learning through research, program design and development, publications, effective and innovative use of funds, service to the profession, etc.
2. Teacher of the Year Award
This award is presented to an adult educator who has demonstrated professionalism and exemplary performance in the field of lifelong learning.
Nominations are due by January 31, 2020.
Awards will be presented at the NJALL conference on May 15, 2020 at Brookdale Community College
Please save the date for NJALL's next annual conference. If you've expertise to share, please consider submitting a workshop proposal.
NJALL 2020 Annual Conference
May 15, 2020
9:00 AM - 3:45 PM
Warner Student Life Center at
Brookdale Community College
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
ACCEPTING WORKSHOP PROPOSALS UNTIL JANUARY 13th
To download a copy of the proposal form, please click here.
While we welcome all proposals that deal with adult education, we are especially interested in the following topics:
ESOL Teaching Strategies Adult Literacy Numeracy
Student Advising and Counseling Student Led Projects
Career Pathways College Transitions
Technology Advocacy Health Literacy
Workshops run 90 minutes (AM) and 75 minutes (PM)
All presenters will receive a complimentary registration for the conference.
Please contact us if you have any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org
Insight, NJALL's annual publication of student writings, is now available, and you can download it here.
Earlier this year the New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning (NJALL) held its fifth annual adult learner writing contest. The five entry categories were fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry and photography. Several winners read and discussed their work at the annual NJALL conference, which has been a highlight of the conference for the past four years. The students shared their powerful personal experiences and helpful reflections about the writing process.
We'd like to thank all of the students who participated and all of the teachers and tutors that made the contest successful. Every year it is an honor to read the students' work, and we are happy to be able to share it with you now. Please peruse the gallery of this year's winners who were able to attend the NJALL conference.
The call for submissions for the next contest will be distributed soon. We will also be looking for reviewers again, so please let us know if you are interested in joining the review committee (to email@example.com).
Kristy Khan, Kim Cozier, Musa Aluga, and Pasang Schreck at the NJALL Scholarship Award Ceremony on June 21, 2019
On Friday, June 21, 2019, NJALL welcomed three new adult students, Kristy Khan, Kim Cozier and Musa Aluga into their Scholarship family. They also honored Pasang Schreck, a 2014 winner, for completing her goal and graduating from college. The Annual NJALL Scholarship Award Ceremony and Breakfast was held at the Conference Center at Mercer County College.
NJALL Scholarship winner, Kristy Khan, had always dreamed of completing school, but after working for 20 years and raising her family, her aunt convinced her that it was her turn. She enrolled in the Bergen County Technical Schools High School Equivalency Program, earned her diploma and is now attending Bergen County Community College.
Kim Cozier was selected as a 2019 Scholarship winner just as she was completing her Associate’s Degree at Essex County College. Kim migrated from Guyana to the US with high hopes of attending college, but family responsibilities interfered. After working for 30 years, she returned to Essex County College’s Adult Learning Center, where she earned her high school diploma and soon started college. Kim is now attending Rutgers University and following in the footsteps of her daughter, a Rutgers graduate.
The journey from his birthplace of Sudan during the war of 1980 was filled with obstacles of poverty and lack of support for Musa Aluga. Assisted by the United Nations, Musa arrived in the US in 2011. He soon learned that pursuing education was what was needed to someday have a career in nursing. After studying to learn English, he enrolled at the Essex County College Adult Learning Center to earn his diploma and followed that with enrollment in Essex County College where he earned his Associate’s Degree. Musa was selected for a 2019 NJALL Scholarship, which will help him as he continues his studies at the William Paterson University School of Nursing. Musa is living the American dream.
NJALL’s Annual Scholarship Award Ceremony is also the time when previous winners are invited to attend to encourage and share words of wisdom to the newly selected scholarship winners. This year, Pasang Schreck one of the speakers, also became an honoree. Pasang came to this country from Nepal and began her studies learning English at the Brookdale Community College Adult Basic Skills Program. Her next step was to earn her high school diploma and soon after to enter Brookdale Community College as a full-fledged college student. During her second year, she was recruited into the nursing program at Georgian Court University and proudly graduated as an RN with a Bachelor’s Degree in May 2019. Pasang, mother of two young sons, became the first recipient to receive the $1000 award from NJALL, a special bonus for those who complete a 4-year degree. Currently, she is studying for her Nursing Boards before starting her nursing residency. She is an inspiration to all who have come to know her!
We hope that the stories of our recipients will inspire adult educators to encourage promising adult students to apply for and perhaps become one of the 2020 NJALL Scholarship winners!
Please Join Us To Award and Celebrate
Ruth had hopes of starting her college career at Union County College, majoring in Music and Theatre. With encouragement, she took the time to apply for the NJALL Scholarship, sharing her compelling story on her application. The NJALL Scholarship Committee recognized that Ruth had the potential to be a success and selected her for one of the Scholarships awarded in June 2018.
Ruth is now attending Union County College and excited to be a college student. NJALL is thrilled to be a part of helping Ruth realize her dreams.
Dear Adult Educators and
Adult Education Students,
NJALL Scholarship Application
Is NOW AVAILABLE for
and must be submitted by
April 30, 2019
Are listed on the first page of the Application.
Don’t miss this opportunity!