Posted:10 July 2019
Found in: Government Policy and Resources
This week's blog comes to you from the CALP Team at Alberta Advanced Education
We’re hitting the peak of summer, which gives the CALP team at Advanced Education a breather from the grant management and program coordination that keep us occupied throughout the year. It’s also a time to reflect and share some of the exciting experiences that we were able to take part in over these past couple of months!
We were able to go on a number of site visits in May and June, and these visits reinforced how valuable the face-to-face connection with CALP staff is.
Ben (AE) and Emily (CLN – South RSS) with the Rainbow Literacy and Learning Society team in Vulcan
In just four trips, our team visited 17 CALP sites and met with a total of 70 staff, board members, and other volunteers of funded organizations!
Here are 5 reasons why we love visiting CALP-funded organizations:
1. We get to connect with you on our favourite topic: Adult literacy and foundational learning!
Whether we’re discussing the CALP Guidelines, why we collect outcomes measures under the Logic Model, or the recent changes to Family Literacy programs, in-person meetings allow for clarity on Advanced Education’s expectations on grant activities. We get to know, in-depth, how your organizations are working with adult learners to address the foundational learning needs in your communities, while also hearing about and brainstorming solutions together around your organizations’ unique challenges.
Nancy and her team of board members in Evansburg
2. We gain a deeper understanding of community contexts.
As you know, the CALP grant applications and reports that you send to us provide only a limited depiction of your community. Visiting CALP-funded organizations allows us to see the space you operate in—whether that is in your own storefront space, inside a provincial building, or at a college campus—and get a sense of how the space accommodates foundational learners.
It is also an opportunity to meet with members of your decision-making body. We are very interested in hearing about the successes and challenges of your organization from the perspectives of your decision-makers, and the best way to do this is typically through in-person site visits to the community.
Finally, being in the community allows grant managers to find out what kind of professional development is needed. For example, support staff and volunteers may need help with engaging and retaining adult foundational learners, with using family literacy as a mode of delivering adult foundational learning, or with mental health training. Meeting face-to-face allows grant managers to gain a fuller picture of the communities we’re working with, the adult foundational learners we are serving, and to try to make your jobs as easy as possible in meeting the CALP mandate.
One of our newest CALPs, serving up an LFL storm in Barrhead
3. Building on our community of practice.
One of the best resources available to CALP-funded organizations is your fellow CALPs, and that’s why peer mentorship is so important in our system. Advanced Education’s team of grant managers have the benefit of a provincial scope of the CALP system, and we are able to connect CALPs in different regions or across networks who may be facing similar challenges and may not have occasion to meet otherwise. In-person site visits facilitate these connections so much better, because we get a better understanding of a community’s context and are able to draw parallels to other CALPs.
Sometimes we find out about something exciting or innovative that is happening in a CALP while we’re on a site visit, and we encourage that CALP to share about what they’re doing on the portal or through other networks. Strong networks are a two-way street, and the more CALPs are able to recognize their own leadership and excellence, the stronger our community of practice will be.
The KALS team (including sweet Pepsi) and Cheryl in Three Hills
4. Facilitating CALPs’ understanding of their role in the provincial adult learning system.
By ensuring that adult Albertans have access to literacy and foundational learning in local communities, your role is fundamental to the provincial adult learning system. The work you do supports foundational learners to transition to further learning, employment or other goals. This is why partnerships between your organizations, your local Comprehensive Community College (CCC), the First Nations Colleges, and other learning providers is so important. Site visits afford us the opportunity to hear firsthand about these kinds of connections, and to support CALPs by facilitating connections to other providers.
Dana and Louise's CALP rallies the Drumheller community
5. Gather input from CALPs on the program’s future direction.
Funded organizations have various avenues to provide input on the future of CALP. You can do so through your final reports, through your regional representative on the Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC), by calling your grant manager, etc. Nonetheless, in-person meetings are a great opportunity for open and frank communication on where the Community Adult Learning Program is headed. For example, we are continuing to explore ways to focus the program towards adult literacy in particular, and while on these visits, we were able to ask questions, test ideas, discuss what it would mean for professional development, and better understand the implications for CALPs planning and delivering programs. All conversations we have with CALP staff inform our thinking about the current state of the program, and how we may need to evolve to be responsive to the changing needs of learners.
Visit to Rocky View Schools Adult Learning in Airdrie
Above all, site visits get us into communities where the action is happening to put the scope of our program into perspective. This province is large, and some communities are very isolated, which makes this network for adult foundational learning even more essential. Site visits enable our team to level up our grant management game by helping us understand how we can better support you.
Colleen & Charlene at the Wetaskiwin Community Learning Program
Thanks to all the CALP-funded organizations that took the time to meet with us, show us around, and tell us about your communities and the great work you are doing. A big shout out to the CLN staff who joined us on these site visits. We learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and are already looking forward to the next time.