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The U.S. Conference on Adult Literacy (USCAL) kicked off in Houston, Texas, with welcoming remarks by Joanie Rethlake, Johan Uvin, Gloria Moritz, and David Harvey. The Stand for Literacy Campaign was also launched with video and audience participation. The keynote address was given by Betty Anne Waters, the real-life heroine behind the movie “Conviction,” starring Hilary Swank.
Dollar General Student Recognition Luncheon
During USCAL’s student recognition luncheon, sponsored by Dollar General, Barbara Bush, former first lady of the United States and founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, gave the keynote address, with remarks by her children Doro Bush Koch and Jeb Bush, who announced they are assuming the leadership of the foundation. Also at the luncheon, the Ruth J. Colvin and Frank C. Laubach Award for Adult Learner Excellence was given to Victor Morales and the Ruth J. Colvin and Frank C. Laubach Award for Excellence in Community-Based Adult Literacy was given to Laura Sherwood.
Federal Public Policy and Advocacy Session
USCAL included an interactive panel discussion on how to advance public polices at the federal level for adult education and family literacy. National presenters gave federal level updates and discussed how policy can be the catalyst for change, what’s needed, and what we can do about it.
Merging Workforce Development and Adult Education: Perspectives on a Work in Progress
This session at USCAL helped navigate the policy and fundraising landscape being reshaped to align adult education with national workforce development needs. Panelists discussed methods for integrating adult education and workforce development in their states.
Public Policy Forum and Student Summit: Advancing Learner Leadership/Mission or Money—Can You Have Both?
The Public Policy Forum at USCAL focused on Advancing Adult Learner Leadership and Managing Mission and Money. Advancing Adult Learner Leadership included the public broadcasting of the Adult Learner Leadership Summit Report, which called for increased and comprehensive involvement of adult learners in adult education and literacy programs; increased support for adults with learning disabilities; and increased resources to support professional development related to these two topics.
The public policy forum also included Mission or Money: Can You Have Both?, a provocative discussion exploring solutions to the challenging social and economic trends that are threatening the publicly funded adult education system.
Digital Literacy Panel
Digital literacy is an essential 21st century skill that demands strong reading, writing, and communication skills. Panelists of this session at USCAL highlighted collaborative efforts, innovative programs, and ongoing challenges for adult educators and learners at the national, programmatic, and individual levels.
At USCAL's International Banquet, the USCAL Award for Program Innovation and Collaboration was given to the Florida Literacy Council; the Ann C. Michel Women in Literacy Award was given to Dr. Tandiar Samir from Egypt; and the Distinguished Service Award was given to Romance Writers of America. The evening closed with a performance by dancers from the Oriental Arts Education Center in Houston.
USCAL wrapped up with a closing luncheon facilitated by adult learner Toni Cordell and ProLiteracy Executive Vice President Peter Waite, who recapped the highlights of the conference while a graphic facilitator took notes.