Vision for Change 2014 - 2016
After over 50 years of service in Northern Virginia, LCNV will undergo two to three years of change that will significantly impact its staff, volunteers, and community partners. LCNV’s clientele are largely immigrants who lack the language skills to obtain a high school diploma or access livable wage jobs. The socio-economic status of these adults results in their working more than one menial job and finding little time to devote to traditional language and literacy instruction that entails years of study, with LCNV as the first step on the adult education continuum. The LCNV learners of today require a program that provides a fast track to livable wage jobs, citizenship, or improved life-skills. LCNV’s vision is to change the model and allow adults to choose a class focused on the skills they need to succeed. LCNV’s vision for leading the organization is to address the needs of its target population while building organization capacity. To that end, LCNV plans to integrate its four pillar programs to create a model similar to the community college system, albeit at a much lower academic level, creating courses that target skill development, teaching small group cohorts, and providing mini-credentials to facilitate entry and advancement in the workplace. This new vision is made more compelling by societal factors and ethical concerns. First, LCNV’s target population is expected to grow exponentially with passage of pending legislation around comprehensive immigration reform. Second, there is growing national interest in workforce investment programs that can address the job needs of the future. Finally, LCNV’s own research, which will continue this year, indicates a gap in career pathways programs for those working low-skilled, entry level jobs to build skills to move to the next level.
The new model will require revisions to every aspect of LCNV’s service delivery, because it is focused on educational content and structure. First steps, already underway, include studying the landscape: community partners, other service providers, the business community, and LCNV internal stakeholders, including learners, to ensure LCNV creates programs that best serve the existing market. Research will take place over the course of this fiscal year, and will influence the program structure, content and courses. Moving into the next fiscal year or two the LCNV staff will develop the curriculum for potentially six skills-based courses to offer to adults in small-cohorts of 10 to 12 learners over eight-week class sessions of three classes per week. The structure and course offerings will be based on the results of the research, but best practices in the industry recommend more intensive instruction over a shorter period of time. Each course will be taught by credentialed instructors with the assistance of trained volunteer class aides. LCNV will maintain its current beginning-level English classes, and Family Learning Program, but follow the revised eight-week, more intensive class structure. The program design would facilitate transitions from basic English class to skills-based classes in reading, writing, computer literacy or workforce. LCNV will also continue to recruit and train tutors, but the job description and training will be modified for teaching small groups, or serving along side of a credentialed teacher.
The next two years will require revisions in every aspect of the organization: programs, staffing, operations, technology, community partnerships, and fund development. In the first year grant funds will pay for resources that will enable LCNV to begin to implement change, while sustaining current operations. This includes hiring temporary staff to conduct part of the day-to-day business to thereby give release time to in-house professionals to devote to organizational redesign, primarily research, curriculum development, and pilot-testing classes. It also includes engaging expert consultants and funding collaborative forums with new stakeholders instrumental to the various processes. Funding will also be secured to cover upgrades in technology for managing data; marketing and outreach; student recruitment; new professional development for volunteers; new course and assessment materials; piloting and evaluating new programs; and leadership development and coaching for senior staff.
Success for LCNV is a program model that serves low-literacy and limited English language proficient adults with a selection of low-cost, moderately intensive courses to help them transition into the workforce or other educational opportunities. Without changing the LCNV mission to serve adults at the lowest literacy and language level, LCNV will keep the motivated learners a little longer with an opportunity to further develop skills (i.e., reading, pronunciation, writing), giving them a better chance to succeed in the workforce or continuing education with partners like Computer CORE, or NVCC. LCNV will continue to provide the crucial first steps of language and literacy learning for workplace, citizenship, and community integration to help adults make measurable improvements in their lives.