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Adult Learning Action Network receives funding

The Adult Literacy Action Network (ALAN) is the first of the three action networks to receive an operational funding grant from The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo.

Why is a grant necessary? The grant process requires each network to establish a plan of action with measureable goals and objectives. The plan describes how the network will achieve its goals and what funding it needs to do so. This assures that the networks are moving in a clear direction toward individual goals that meet with the overarching cradle-to-career objectives of The Learning Network. ALAN received $125,200.

Michael D. Evans, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council and convener for ALAN, says the funding leverages existing support for adult literacy, stretching both the efforts and dollars to meet the needs of adult learners. Just as significantly, it connects the work of those engaged in adult literacy to The Learning Network’s continuum of education, which ultimately contributes to a vital and thriving community.

“It also gives us an opportunity to impact other aspects of the continuum, including K-12,” Evans adds. “Directly at the adult level and indirectly across the continuum, this funding will greatly enhance our collective effectiveness.”

The money pays for staffing and support to programs established through previous grants to the Literacy

Council to support the Adult Literacy Collaborative, which now serves as the Adult Learning Action Network of The Learning Network.

“It wasn’t money that drove our collaboration around adult literacy; it was a shared, county-wide concern. When The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo was formed,
it made sense for us to align our collective work with that cradle-to-career initiative.
Now, with the grant funding we’ve received as the Adult Literacy Action Network, our efforts are strengthened, we’re impacting the whole of the continuum, and we have exponential opportunity for impact with each adult learner we serve.”

Michael D. Evans | Adult Learning Action Network Convener

“Our work to this point has been supported by program grants,” Evans says. “Those have allowed us to build community literacy centers, start a parent literacy program, pilot a computer class and start development of a writing curriculum. The Learning Network’s grant allows us to fill in an infrastructure of support around those centers and programs.”

The grant provides for an Adult Learning Services Navigator who coordinates the adult learners’ learning experience across available services. This position also helps facilitate information and activities between the programs — as it relates to the adult learner — to assure seamless coordination through what can be a complex process. The navigator is from the LISC AmeriCorps program. Because of ALAN’s association with Goodwill Industries — Evans’ office is housed at Goodwill —  the navigator works in tandem with two navigators provided by that nonprofit who serve much of the same population and provide coordination around employment and income supports.

“This navigation capability gives us a greater ability to serve our adult learners and also make a better connection between the adult learning service providers: to better assess what type of needs we have in the community; identify gaps and to identify resources to fill those gaps,” Evans says.

The navigator is aided by a student services coordinator, and a marketing and development coordinator who assists in data management and communications, also provided in part through the grant funding. It also pays for Evans’ time as the action network’s convener.