Wednesday | April 18 | 9AM
Please join us at the CLA Confab with presentations from two incredible member organizations: Pangea Educational Development and Literacy Volunteers of Illinois. Looking for a mini-preview of what you can expect? Learn more about our two speakers this month below!
Dorothy M. Miaso is the Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, a position she has held since 1992. In her work with the Literacy Volunteers she has been involved with a variety of literacy and national service-related initiatives at the local, state and national levels, and has been involved with correctional education for adults and juvenile at the state and county levels. Prior to joining the Literacy Volunteers, Miaso served in various capacities in the public sector in government and not-for-profit agencies. She served as the Assistant Director of Operation ABLE, a non-profit Chicago-based employment program for older workers, and, as the Director of Senior Programs in the Governor and Lt. Governor’s offices. She also worked for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Miaso is a past member of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (who recently named an award after her)and a past board member of the American Association of State Service Commissions, a national organization that provides leadership and support to state volunteer service commissions throughout the country. She is a member of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association and the Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration. Miaso holds a B.A. degree in English/Education from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Management of Public Service from DePaul University.
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois is a statewide organization committed to developing and supporting volunteer literacy programs that help families, adults and out-of-school teens increase their literacy skills.
Drew Edwards is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pangea Educational Development. He is a research fellow for education in conflict & emergency situations with the Qatar Foundation and has been living and working in Uganda for 7 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from DePaul University and is currently a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Pangea Educational Development is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering schools and unifying communities through sustainable education. Founded in 2011, PED partners with schools in Uganda through three phrases to jointly identify problems, map and implement sustainable projects, and equip them with the tools to manage their program in the future.
Excited to hear more, checking out the Literacenter, and networking with fellow literacy advocates? Join us on April 18th!
Whether you’re a part of an established organization with a large staff or you’re a one-person shop just getting your programs off the ground, shared workspaces are a fantastic option for nonprofit professionals looking to collaborate with like-minded peers and increase organizational capacity.
In addition to establishing a culture where it’s a norm to help each other, coworking offers individuals and organizations the flexibility to work independently, hop in a conference room for a team meeting, or organically collaborate around a communal table. Efficiency increases and creativity flourishes when team members have the autonomy to personalize their work environments!
Need more convincing? Check out these 10 statistics about the benefits of a shared workplace:
1. Coworking is good for employee satisfaction. 72% of members of coworking spaces are happy with their current work situation.
2. Happy teams are productive teams! 64% of coworkers are better able to complete tasks on time.
3. Meeting potential donors, volunteers, and program partners in coffee shops doesn’t always lend itself to making the best first impression. 83% of non-profit organizations using a shared workspace report improvements in organizational credibility.
4. Whether it’s the flexibility in working arrangements or the social interactions that shared spaces help facilitate, 70% of people report feeling healthier than they did working in a traditional office setting.
5. The coworking trend is growing! The projected number of members in coworking spaces worldwide for 2018 is 1,690,000 million.
6. This is a gimme, but it’s important to note nonetheless: a shared workspace encourages individuals to see themselves as part of a larger community and helps facilitate organic introductions and professional relationships.
9. Shared workspaces are good for non-profits’ bottom lines. 75% report more stable costs after moving to a shared workspace.
All said, shared workspaces have a variety of benefits for people in all industries. One of the most salient points throughout the many (many) pieces of research out there is this: community matters. From non-profits to creatives, individuals want to feel as though they’re part of something larger and shared workspaces are a great start.
Check out the featured links throughout this post to learn more about the benefits of shared workplaces or visit the Literacenter to learn more about how we’re bringing literacy professionals from around Chicago together to cowork, learn, and grow.
We caught up with Adam Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books to get the scoop on the organization. Check it out:
The Chicago Review of Books dedicated to making the literary conversation more inclusive by covering diverse genres, presses, voices, and mediums; shining a light on Chicago’s literary scene; and serving as a forum for literature in the Midwest.
Why is it important to shine a light on Chicago’s literary scene?
I honestly believe Chicago is in the middle of its fourth literary renaissance, so I want to help bring our poets and writers into the national conversation. The city has so many great cultural institutions for readers and writers, but I felt it was missing a digital media outlet dedicated to covering the city’s creative output.
Why did the Chicago Review of Books decide to partner with Chicago Literary Hall of Fame for The Evolution of Chicago Comics and Comic Books exhibit and panel?
Diverse genres is part of our mission, so we try to cover comics and graphic novels/memoirs as often as possible (though not as often as we’d like). When the CLHOT approached us about a partnership, it seemed like a no-brainer. They had a lot of historical knowledge about Chicago’s past comic strips and illustrators, and I tried to bring a contemporary angle to the exhibit that would highlight the local writers and artists working today, like Michael Moreci, Ashley A. Woods, Gene Ha, Jenny Frison, Lucy Knisley, Nicole Hollander, Tim Seeley, and many more.
What would you like to collaborate with CLA members?
This is tough! We’re hoping to partner with another organization to provide writing workshops in the future, once we’ve secured nonprofit status and some grants, so learning about program implementation is important to me. It’s also a great networking opportunity for us, to meet like-minded, nonprofit-oriented people in Chicago who love reading and writing.
We’re definitely available to share our expertise when it comes to digital media and digital strategy for smaller organizations on a budget. And we’re always open to using our channels to promote local literary events and initiatives.
Visit chireviewofbooks.com to learn more!
Most of us have a favorite story from childhood. Whether you’re currently reading some of these classic authors and books with your own kids or just love a good trip down memory lane, read on to (hopefully) discover something new about some of your favorite children’s books and their authors!
1. Dr. Seusss’ first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by over 20 publishers
2. On average, a copy of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold somewhere in the world every minute.
3. The Harry Potter books were the first children’s books on the New York Times Bestseller list since E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in 1952.
4. The steps taken by Alice in Alice: Through the Looking Glass make up a playable game of chess (though not necessarily an efficient one).
5. Margery Williams, author of The Velveteen Rabbit, wrote a horror novel called ‘The Thing in the Woods’ under the pseudonym Harper Williams.
6. C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien once went to a party dressed as polar bears.
7. The titular character of Clifford the Big Red Dog was almost named Tiny. Author Norman Bridwell changed the name after a suggestion from his wife.
8. Keep your eyes open to find a white bull terrier in all Chris Van Allsburg’s books, including The Polar Express and Jumanji.
9. The authors of Curious George were forced to flee Paris during World War II’s German occupation, according to the New York Times. They weren’t able to carry much, but one thing made it into their suitcase: the original Curious George manuscript.
10. Carolyn Keene, to whom every book featuring Nancy Drew is attributed, is not a real person. Keene is a pseudonym for the many authors who contributed to the mystery series.
Here’s to keeping all of our inner children alive through the magic of children’s literature!
Written by Cara Ward
Looking for a way to celebrate Women’s History Month with your little reader? Consider celebrating the many contributions women have made by reading a few stories that highlight women’s accomplishments, breaking stereotypes, and building self-esteem together! Not sure where to start? Check out this list of ten books that feature important women in history and strong, unique female characters.
1. Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio
Ages: 5-9 years
After Grace learns that the United States has never had a female president, she decides to take matters into her own hands and run for class president. In addition to a fun narrative, this book provides an introduction to how elections work, and highlights the opportunities for girls and women to get involved in the American political system. This informative, entertaining read teaches girls the importance of never giving up on their dreams.
2. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
This is not your typical damsel in distress princess story! Follow the fiercely independent Princess Elizabeth as she searches for her husband-to-be, Prince Ronald, after he is seen being taken by a dragon. A self-empowered, fearless role model for young girls, this princess shows her readers that they can be the heroes in their own stories.
3. Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
Ages: 8-12 years
This book—which you probably recognize as a major motion picture—tells the story of four Black female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in the space program. This story of women in a STEM field fighting for their dreams will serve as an inspiration for readers of all ages.
4. I’m a Girl! By Yasmeen Ismail
Ages: 3-6 years
This picture book is all about being unapologetically, a girl! It’s a great book to read with any young child to teach them that they can be whoever they want and they should be proud of whoever that is.
5. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
Ages: 5-9 years
This book covers all kinds of amazing feats achieved by females throughout time ranging from pilot Amelia Earhart to fashion designer Coco Chanel all the way to writer Jane Austen. Reading this novel with your kids will both be an informative and fun way to talk about all the amazing things women have achieved.
6. Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
Ages: 4-8 years
Princess Smartypants isn’t your typical princess. She’d rather live with her pets than a prince, rides a motorcycle, and scares off every suitor that comes her way by giving them impossible tasks to complete. This book tips the princess stereotype on its head and gives young readers an independent female character (who doesn’t need a man to make her happy) with whom they can relate.
7. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Ages: 5-7 years
Rosie dreams of being an engineer and spends all her times building gizmos and gadgets. When her great-great-aunt Rose (also known as Rosie the Riveter) comes to town with a dream of building something that will make her fly, Rosie gets to work on a special contraption with her. This story not only inspires girls to follow their dreams but also to never give up if things don’t go right the first time.
8. Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya
Ages: 5-8 years
This is the story of an inspiring young Pakistani girl who fought for girls’ right to education. Her work eventually led her to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. This is an important story for all people to read but this specific edition makes the subject matter accessible for younger readers. This novel documents an extremely recent and relevant piece of women’s history that will connect kids to the world events going on around them.
9. Seeds of Change : Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson
Ages: 6-9 years
This beautifully illustrated book shares the empowering story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. From her youth in Kenya where she learned to respect nature and appreciate the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her, to her fight to promote the rights of her countrywoman and help save the land, her story is one that will inspire readers of all ages.
10. Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty
Ages: 4-8 years
This book empowers girls to define themselves by who they are not by what they look like. It breaks barriers by showing girls to be themselves whether that’s splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, or reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their inner potential.
This month’s Confab will be held at the Literacenter and will feature two presentations from member organizations Emerald City Theatre and iAchieve Learning. Emerald City Theatre is one of Chicago’s most-attended nonprofit theater companies that also has a signature outreach initiative, One Fund, that provides a free performance and companion book to low-income Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. iAchieve Learning specializes in providing one-on-one tutoring for grades K-12 in all subject areas as well as music instruction for all ages. Read on to find out a little bit more about the speakers from these organizations and register for the Confab today to meet these literacy changemakers in person!
Carly Crawford from Emerald City Theatre
Carly Crawford is the Associate Education Director at Emerald City Theatre where she supervises the faculty, creates curriculum, and oversees programming and outreach partnerships within the education department. Carly received a B.A. in Drama and Literature from Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville and an M.A. in Arts Administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Before coming to ECT, Carly worked as a performer, teaching artist, and administrator for theaters throughout the Southeast – in Asheville, Lexington, and Memphis. In 2016, Carly served as the conference chair on the executive board of the Pride Youth Theater Alliance. She was also recognized as a 2016 Young Memphian by the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce.
Sarah Kochan from iAchieve Learning
Sarah Kochan is t he Owner and Founder of iAchieve Learning. Working one-on-one with students and teachers has been a passion of Sarah’s for many years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Mathematics, was a high school Math teacher for 10 years, and began private tutoring about 11 years ago. Sarah started iAchieve Learning in 2014 and has worked very hard to create a business that offers many different educational services to be able to help as many students and families as possible. iAchieve Learning started off with one main service, tutoring, and 2 sub-contractors and has now grown to offer 7 main educational services with around 25 instructors. Music has also been a large part of her life and she has been playing the piano for 29 years. Seeing the progress and results that students are able to achieve in a single learning session is amazing and is what inspired Sarah to start iAchieve Learning. She is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce for Des Plaines, Park Ridge, and Mount Prospect, a member of Learning Forward, and the National Association of Professional Women. Sarah is passionate about teaching, helping others, and making sure every student and educator is provided with an exceptional learning experience.
After presentations from our guest speakers attendees can ask questions, connect with fellow literacy advocates, and make announcements during the open floor. This event is free and open to the general public, so please invite your networks to attend!Learn more. Register for the Confab on March 21st!
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Punch Line
The Evolution of the Chicago Comics into an Art Form
We had a great time celebrating the opening of this exhibit that follows the history of Chicago comics created in partnership with our member organizations the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and the Chicago Review of Books on February 8th!
Photo courtesy of Floyd Sullivan
Such an amazing treat for our Executive Director and the rest of the team to meet Audrey Niffenegger!
Photo courtesy of Floyd Sullivan
Photo courtesy of Floyd Sullivan
Don’t miss The Evolution of the Chicago Comics into an Art Form: A Panel Discussion featuring artists, scholars, and reviewers which will discuss the history of comic books in Chicago, and how the form has evolved over the past century. No need to RSVP; just come by the Literacenter on Thursday, March 22nd, 7-8 PM.
This event is free and open to the public and will feature special guests: Adam Morgan (Publisher, Chicago Review of Books), Michael Moreci (Roche Limit, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash), Stanford W. Carpenter (Rice University, Institute for Comic Studies, Cosmic Underground), and more!
Written by Cara Ward
Celebrate Love & Reading
Valentine’s Day is all about spending time with the people you love and there’s no better way to do so than by snuggling up and reading a book together. As an added bonus, here at the CLA, we know that reading with kids is a great way to build the literacy skills they’ll need later in life to live independent, fulfilling lives (parenting win!).
In the spirit of the holiday and fostering a love of reading, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite lovey-dovey children’s books that celebrate love, family, friendship, kindness, and sharing.
Ages: 1-3 years
In Llama Llama I Love You, a little llama shows his friends and family how much he loves them with heart-shaped cards and lots of hugs. With short and sweet rhymes, this picture book is bound to be a llama fun for your babies and toddlers this V-Day.
Ages: 3-5 years
This sweet story revolves around Froggy’s first big crush on the lovely Frogilina and his attempt to make her an extra special Valentine. This book will keep your little ones giggling with delight from start to finish with a heart-warming, funny take on having your first crush.
Ages: 4-8 years
Right from the title, kids will love this book. In it, the main character Gilbert decides to write Valentines to all his classmates, but writes silly prank ones to the students who have been mean to him. He quickly learns how powerful words are and how they can hurt people’s feelings, but manages to turn things around with the help of a friend and an honest apology. This Valentine’s Day read will prompt lots of laughs, as well as discussions on kindness and forgiveness.
Ages: 6-9 years
Who doesn’t love a good mystery especially when it’s all about finding a secret Valentine’s Day admirer? This chapter book is perfect for beginning readers as they can sleuth with Nate, who hates all things mushy, to find whoever left his dog a valentine.
Ages: 6-9 years
Everyone’s favorite kindergartner, Junie B. Jones is so excited to see all the “Valentimes” she gets but is surprised when she sees a mushy gushy card from a secret admirer. Who could it be? You and your young readers will definitely want to get to the bottom of this Valentine’s Day mystery with her!
Ages: 1-3 years
Sometimes the best way to show a little one about love, is by letting them feel it for themselves and that’s what this touch and feel book featuring everyone’s favorite little red monster does. Babies and toddlers will love this interactive picture book and will want to continue reading it even after Valentine’s Day has passed.
Ages: 3-7 years
When mundane, typical, reserved Mr. Hatch receives an anonymous package with a card saying “Somebody Loves You”, he is so excited he starts spicing up his life with brownie baking, picnic hosting, and reading to local kids. When the truth comes out about his mystery Valentine, it turns out to be the biggest surprise of his life. This book has a powerful message about kindness and how the smallest deed can make the biggest difference – it’s a must read this upcoming V-Day.
Ages: 3-6 years
This story is about two mice wanting to make a Valentine for their teacher and even though they fight, they finally realize that if they come together they can make the biggest Valentine ever. This book will get your child so excited to make Valentine cards of their own, and it actually comes with foil stickers to help get them started.
Ages: 4-8 years
The Mouse from If you give a Mouse a Cookie is back making special Valentines for all of his friends about why he loves them. Your child will love seeing Mouse on a new adventure and you will love all the sweet sentiments Mouse puts in his cards. This book will really fill your heart up and bring you back to the basics of Valentine’s Day: expressing your love to those close to you.
Ages: 4-6 years
Todd Parr’s best selling book celebrates the special love shared between parents and children. From heartfelt lines (“I love you when you need hugs”) to more light hearted ones (“I love you when you hide my keys”), he encompasses the unconditional bond shared between parents and littles.This book is all about reminding children how much they are loved by their parents and what better day to do that than the day of love, Valentine’s Day.
This month’s Confab is taking place at the Weinberg/Newton Art Gallery celebrating literacy, collaboration, and art. Member organizations Designers for Learning and The Chicago Home Tutor will present and give the community the opportunity to hear some of the amazing work they’re doing to improve literacy in Chicago. Read on to find out a little bit more about our speakers and register for the Confab today!
Jennifer Maddrell from Designers for Learning
Jennifer Maddrell is the founder and Executive Director of Designers for Learning, a nonprofit with a mission to provide educational resources and service-learning experiences to promote all aspects literacy. Jennifer founded Designers for Learning in 2014 after completing a master’s degree in instructional systems technology at Indiana University and a Ph.D. in instructional design at Old Dominion University.
Before her career transition to the education field, she worked for over 15 years within the insurance industry after completing a bachelor’s degree in finance at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and an MBA at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Jennifer’s passion for education and technology inspired her career transition. She founded Designers for Learning with a dual mission to support underserved educational needs and to provide instructional design students and other volunteers with experiential learning opportunities. Since Designers for Learning’s inception, over 4,500 volunteers have enrolled in service-learning experiences to crowdsource the design and development of open educational resources (OER) for adult basic education programs to help learners with low literacy and math skills. Over 100 lessons designed by these volunteers are available for free to adult educators and their learners in the Adult Learning Zone group on OER Commons.
Founding Designers for Learning has been the most rewarding challenge in her life. Given that adult education programs in the US serve only 1.5 million of the 93 million who could benefit from their services, the motivation to support this enormous underserved need far outweighs the ups and downs of organizing and facilitating instructional design projects that involve hundreds of volunteers.
The best part of her job is connecting those who want to help with those who need it. She traces her passion for education and literacy to her parents. They considered their highest purpose and accomplishment to be ensuring that all four of their children graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. A proud “cheesehead” now living in Chicago, Jennifer spends much of her downtime cheering on her Badgers and camping with her husband in southwest Wisconsin not far from where her ancestors settled in the mid-1800s.
Tulin Akin from the Chicago Home Tutor
Tulin Akin has been a school psychologist since 2007, but she left public schools and began working for Chicago Home Tutor in 2014. She loved working with students, teachers and families, but had grown frustrated with the components of my job that took time away from students. She loves so much about the work she does now – she forms deep, lasting relationships with her students and families, she is able to apply best practices and flexibility to address student concerns, and she gets to choose her number of clients and schedule – allowing her to add or reduce supports as she determines is best for the student.
When she’s not working, you’ll usually find her running, reading, cooking, or hanging out with her husky, Chance. She also volunteers every week at Lakeview Pantry, and loves it. She is a voracious reader, on almost any subject, and have been since she was small – she happily loses track of hours on the weekend laying in the sun and reading. This is probably why literacy matters so much to her: it has brought her so much joy and increased her love of learning, and she truly believes it better connects her to others. She wants everyone to be able to experience those positives.
The Chicago Home Tutor was founded with the knowledge that with an attuned and skilled practitioner in their corner every student can make progress towards their academic and social-emotional goals. They specifically wanted to partner with CLA because they share the common goal to equip all people to read- a skill which empowers them in many other areas. They are familiar with the research on the importance of early intervention and firmly believe that with some effective, early support we can make big strides towards completely preventing literacy problems. They are hoping to partner with some organizations to make this a reality.
Learn more. Register for the Confab on February 21st!