Capital Area Literacy Coalition: Success through Technology

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Capital Area Literacy Coalition
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Capital Area Literacy Coalition helps children and adults learn to read, write and speak English with an ultimate goal of helping individuals achieve self-sufficiency. We achieve this through direct services and by enhancing literacy efforts of community organizations in the Capital Area and throughout the state of Michigan.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Microsoft technologies have allowed CALC to maximize our impact through more effective and efficient use of data, improved quality of volunteer training and recruitment, and increased outreach to families of children in our after-school programs.

For a non-profit organization reliant on grants, data is crucial. CALC utilizes Microsoft Excel for data recording and statistical purposes for many of its programs, including the Family School Partnership (FSP) and Read to Succeed children’s programs and the GED preparation program. For FSP, children’s attendance, race, gender, parental permission, and food allergies are input for all three sites. When necessary, reports can easily be configured to detail attendance during certain time periods, trends in children’s attendance over reporting periods, and statistics on race and gender. Before using Microsoft Excel, these types of reports were hand-counted; with close to 300 children attending FSP in a year, this was a tedious and inefficient process.

The GED preparation program relies heavily on Excel to track student progress and maintain statistical information. Students’ practice test scores are recorded in an Excel spreadsheet; with fifty to sixty students active in the program at any one time, this easily enables the GED coordinator to measure students’ readiness for the official GED test. Statistical information, such as student enrollment and inactive dates, are maintained in the GED Excel book, making reporting efficient.

CALC has also found an innovative way to use Excel to better organize its office. All students must undergo a literacy assessment before being placed in our basic reading, pre-GED, GED, or ESL program. These literacy assessments had been scheduled in a binder stored at the reception desk. This was inconvenient, however, because, as a small non-profit, CALC needs everyone in the office to help answer phones. Therefore, anytime someone not at the reception desk needed to schedule an assessment, confirm a new student’s assessment appointment time, or reschedule a student’s appointment, she had to walk to the reception area to retrieve the assessment schedule book. A CALC intern had a better idea; he created an assessment schedule using Microsoft Excel. The Excel schedule is stored on CALC’s intranetwork, so every workstation is able to access it. An added benefit is the Excel schedule allows CALC to keep a long-term record of its appointments, including those rescheduled and those the student missed. While similar appointment books are offered to businesses online for a fee, CALC’s Excel schedule book is a free alternative that does not rely on a sometimes intermittent and slow Internet connection.

Volunteer training has been greatly improved through the use of Microsoft PowerPoint. Over the last couple of years, trainings for the FSP After-School Program supervisors and tutors have become more thorough, engaging, and accessible through the use of PowerPoint. Volunteer supervisors report that the training is comprehensive and provides a helpful description of program goals and expectations. In addition to the supervisor orientation training, the FSP Program coordinator utilized PowerPoint to develop additional ongoing trainings for both the supervisors and the teenaged tutors. These trainings allow more in-depth coverage of important aspects of the program, such as vocabulary development and student discipline. A critical aspect of the program for the teen tutors is career development; thus, teen tutors have benefited from PowerPoint presentations on the ACT college entrance exam, college applications, and college selection.

PowerPoint has also been utilized to extend CALC’s reach in volunteer recruitment. Within close proximity to Michigan State University, CALC is able to connect with many college students through public service announcements advertised on MSU’s cable station. The public service announcements are developed on PowerPoint and then emailed to the cable station for broadcast. These are helping to yield many new volunteers for the Read to Succeed, Migrant Literacy, and adult tutoring programs.

Lastly, increased parental involvement has resulted from the use of Microsoft Publisher. A major component of the FSP After-School Program is a partnership with the families of the child participants. We are constantly striving to discover new ways to forge relationships with parents and involve them in their child’s education. A parent newsletter is one way we’ve been able to inform parents of important aspects and interesting projects we hope the parents will support. For example, when the FSP children participated in a city-wide art show, a parent newsletter gave information about the show so parents could take their children.

CALC has greatly benefited from Microsoft technologies. These technologies have enabled us to organize and effectively use important data, better prepare and provide ongoing assistance to program volunteers, and expand our communication with parents.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery