What is DECODE?

The Chicago Literacy Alliance is proud to present our annual thought-leadership summit to explore challenges and solutions to increasing literacy in Chicago. DECODE is an experience for educators, literacy professionals, engaged philanthropists, and civic decision-makers. Through digital interactive panel discussions, access to field experts, and sharing of vital resources, we will:

    • Break down the complex barriers to literacy acquisition
    • Strategize literacy-based solutions to urgent social challenges
    • Analyze the literacy landscape to inform decisions and action

DECODE 2020: Literacy and the Promise of Life and Liberty

This event is 100% free and virtual.

How do the tools of literacy empower us to engage in and contribute to our community, political life, and democracy in Chicago? How does that change during a global health and economic crisis, and a time of deep civil unrest in our city and beyond?

Day 1 (Thursday, October 1, 2020): Special keynote discussion with Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval. 7 – 8pm. Keynote will also be available for viewing afterwards.

Day 2 (Friday, October 2, 2020): Digital Interactive Panels and Virtual Networking Opportunities. 8:45am – 3:30pm

Register today for this free, virtual event.

Donors make our work possible. Together, we provide capacity building, alignment and advocacy to our community. Your gift directly supports CLA programming and initiatives.

For questions or inquiries, contact Annie Rezac, CLA Director of Public Engagement: arezac@chicagoliteracyalliance.org


Join Kevin and Idris for a lively and passionate discussion around using the tools of literacy to build a better democracy. They will be exploring how systemic challenges impact communities of color in Chicago, the role that literacy can play in dismantling those systems, and how expanding our thinking around what literacy achievement looks like could create new pathways toward equity for Chicago’s youth.


Stay tuned for more speakers, to be added soon!

8:45am – 9:15 am

Program opens. Log on, check in, and get primed

9:15 am – 9:45am

Welcome and special statement from former Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

9:45am – 10:40am

Session 1 – Tomorrow’s Citizens – creating equitable and accessible pathways for today’s youth to lead

Dr. Kim Parker

Parent, literacy and education expert

Alderwoman Maria Hadden

Alderwoman, 49th Ward, Chicago

More coming soon!

10:40am – 11:00am

Session 1 Q&A

11:00am – 12:00pm

Lunch break and virtual CLA resource fair

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Session 2 – Living a Civic Life – exploring solutions to the barriers that disenfranchise individuals, families, and communities living with low literacy

Clarisol Duque

Chicago Chief of Staff, Sen. Dick J. Durbin

Idris Goodwin

Multidisciplinary artist and creative community builder

More coming soon!

12:50pm – 1:10pm

Session 2 Q&A

1:10pm – 1:30pm


1:30pm – 2:20pm

Session 3 – The Impact of Chicago’s Literacy Sector – discussing the power of collective impact and creating a shared vocabulary around different forms of literacy and desired outcomes

Hilesh Patel

Leadership Investment Program Officer, The Field Foundation of Illinois. Facilitator

Nick Freeman

Co-Founder and President, Innovare – Social Innovation Partners. Panelist

Tenisha Jones

Senior Director of Strategy and Operations for Westside United. Panelist

Kevin Coval

Award-winning poet and author. Panelist

2:20pm – 2:40pm

Session 3 Q&A

2:45pm – 3:30pm

Digital Peer Breakout Groups to unpack what is discussed during the panels