Literacy Network’s work to help adults meet education needs serves as an important resource for Dane County, and now with a grant from COABE, a national agency focused on supporting and engaging with educators and adult learners, Literacy Network will be able to continue to help adults meet their education goals. COABE, Coalition on Adult Basic Education, has a variety of services, resources, and opportunities around the field of education. The Literacy Network’s work to center their adult learners and students has garnered them recognition and an Incentive Grant that Literacy Network’s grants manager, Autumn Jackson, knows will provide the pathway to a more student-oriented structure and growth for the organization.
“What we wanted to do with this grant, and specifically what we intend to do this year, is create a student advisory board. The idea is to elevate our students’ voices to ensure that all the agency decisions are equitable and inclusive of our students,” said Jackson, referring to the student-centered approach Literacy Network takes.
“To have a project like that recognized by a national level agency, like COABE, is a really wonderful thing. It means that this is an idea that is going to move forward. If we’re getting national support for this, this is something we’re going to be able to do.”
The Literacy Network’s offerings in areas such as pursuing a GED or HSED, pursuing citizenship, learning English as a second language, or even simply proficiency development in literacy all are often crucial aspects to achieving goals for adults who utilize their service. Intentional education services can have a large impact on career and life trajectory for adults. As such, Literacy Network treats students as individuals with differing needs and intentions.
“We really focus on tailoring our programs, materials, and curriculum to meeting their goals and helping them meet their goals,” Jackson said. “We serve adults, and adults are very busy. They’re juggling multiple responsibilities and they have a lot going on, but they’re making time for education as well. Which is already incredibly admirable.”
Jackson, who has experience as an instructor with Literacy Network, spoke to students being truly impacted by increased capabilities and opportunities both immediately and in the long term. Increased capacity to help their children, advocate for themselves, and make advances across areas in life all serve as moments of pride for adult learners looking to make changes in their life. For Jackson, perhaps the most important part is that students recognize accomplishments as part of their own hard work, potential, and abilities.
“Seeing the joy and how proud people are of themselves when they’ve accomplished something,” said Jackson “We’re proud of them, their kids are proud of them, but I think when someone is proud of themselves, it brings such joy to see that…It’s realizing the power that each student, each person, and each participant in this program has. They’re impacting their kids’ lives by doing this, they’re impacting their own lives, and they’re just proud of themselves. I love to see that.”
A special part of adult education is also the ability to inspire a drive for learning. It is no surprise that an organization dedicated to inspiring adults to keep pursuing knowledge and setting goals such as Literacy Network would be recognized by COABE as a fellow promoter of uplifting and supplying opportunity to adult students. The ability to engage with Literacy Network does not just stop with being a student though, as Jackson expressed their appreciation of anyone in the community who wants to come be a part in the collaborative effort of adult education.
“For community members who want to help and support Literacy Network, we do have many volunteer opportunities every year,” Jackson said. “Because many of our programs have one-on-one tutoring, we have a really unique and supportive model in which all of our volunteer tutors receive training and they have a set schedule. We make it easy to volunteer, and you don’t have to have any teaching experience or pedagogical background to work with adults. We just need people who are able to commit for three months and are really patient, kind, and willing to learn themselves.”