Community network in Phillips advances practices in youth literacy

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In the past two years, youth educators, after-school mentors, youth literacy specialists and librarians have teamed up across Phillips to share tested best practices, years of research, resources, opportunities and more, with a vision to enhance out-of-school-time literacy programming through grassroots connection.

As the facilitator of the emerging group, I have witnessed as the partnership, called the Phillips Literacy Network (PLN), has developed through more than ten gatherings of the eleven participating organizations. In addition to the inherent value of growing community connection, PLN has also contributed to capacity development across the unique programs of its active members. Librarians at Franklin Library extended the reach of the opportunities they offer by sharing informational materials at meetings and strategically identifying alignment with the schedules of after-schools in Phillips, whose youth will now be exposed to the enriching activities of the Teen Tech Lab, Franklin’s 4H club, and their Young Achievers program.

A youth literacy specialist at the U of M shared her years of expertise on effective literacy practices, versed literacy coordinators at different after-schools on the five components of literacy, and provided the group with classroom-ready, easy-to-implement comprehension activities. After-school youth workers had conversations around how to best support and engage our youth not only through literacy, but also through mentorship, and shared ideas on project-based literacy, youth voice and pushing back against whitewashed narratives in the classroom. Teachers attended and voiced their priorities with literacy and how they imagine ideal support in after-school settings. And finally, community engagement coordinators and cultural liaisons from Andersen and Minneapolis Public Schools brought many opportunities and resources to the table for members to share with the parents of their participants, such as free English classes, free tax filing services, enrichment classes and an invitation to get involved in CEPEO.

The network looks forward to continuing its work this upcoming fall, with exciting aspirations for the 2015-2016 school year, such as collaborative events, more program and resource sharing, and professional development trainings. Connection is what binds us together, gives us the sheer knitted-together strength needed to trail-blaze in new, authentically empowering directions. As a grassroots network coming together to improve our communities and inspire positive change, PLN embodies this beauty in connection, and I hope it will continue to grow in this. If you wish to connect with PLN, contact Anna Meteyer at meteyera@puc-mn.org and Kate Percuoco at percuocok@puc-mn.org .