Calgary Learns - newsletter
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July 9, 2014

Connecting our Adult Learning & Literacy Community


In This Issue

Mark Your Calendar

IFL Orientation Session
September 23

2015 Program Funding
Application deadline
October 1

2014 Program Funding
Final report deadline
January 23, 2015

Marathon Update

In our recent needs assessment, people in the learning community expressed a need to learn more about how to best address the complex needs of learners at the foundational level. Calgary Learns decided to direct all funds raised through the Calgary Marathon to Professional Development. With the instructors having increased skills and strategies to meet learners’ needs, the impact of the raised funds will continue to benefit learners.

Our small but mighty Calgary Learns marathon team raise $5,350. We look forward to further innovations in this field to address the needs of adult learners and your dollars will help to fund innovation in Calgary.

Integrated Foundational Learning - the project continues

Were you inspired at our IFL conversation cafés in December and February? We learned about some of the exciting changes to Calgary foundational level programs resulting from participation in the Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) project. Through the support of both the training and mentorship in this project, participating organization have implemented various self-determined changes to enhance their programs.  Some outcomes that have been reported as a direct result of participation in IFL include:
  • Reduced anxiety in learners
  • If learner is struggling, it is now easier to identify why and provide support
  • Increased learner success
  • The project has changed the way I approach my work.  – IFL participant
With the success of previous pilots and the expressed need of professional development, Calgary Learns is thrilled to announce that we will be offering the IFL again starting in the fall of 2014. This has been made possible through the generous support of The Calgary Foundation.  We are making some innovations to the program based on our learnings from the two previous pilots including:
  1. Having two streams of the IFL program
    • Training workshops plus Mentorship – organizations interested in the full package must have two staff attend all of training sessions and then will be able to apply to have a mentor (a literacy and/or essential skills specialist) work with their staff in-house.
    • Training workshops only (NEW) – organizations will be able to send staff to training sessions that are of interest to them.  
  2. Community of Practice for Alumni – previous IFL participants who want the opportunity to continue their learning with the support of the alumni of this project.
Calgary Learns will host an Orientation for the project on September 23rd from 10:00-11:30 (details will follow). We would encourage you to come and learn how this program might benefit your organization. 

To learn more about previous IFL projects, visit 

Are we knocking at your door? Before you panic…please read

As you know Calgary Learns is the steward of grants given to adult foundational programs in Calgary from Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education. As an organization we work closely with both of our partners (government and non-profit organizations) to ensure that learning needs of adults at the foundational level are best addressed with the funding available. 

Visits: As part of our role, we want to advocate for programs in our community and as you know, the best way we can do this is to see programs in action.  This year, every funded program will be visited by a member of the Calgary Learns team to allow us to experience the wonderful work that you do. Therefore, do not stress when we contact you to make an appointment.  We want to see a typical class and have the opportunity to chat with instructors about successes and challenges, and talk to a few learners about their experiences. These visits are a highlight of our day!

Reports: We ask for two reports (mid-year and final report) each year from our grantees.  We appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the successes and challenges of your programs. If your numbers are down or you are facing an unforeseen difficulty (e.g. staff turnover), please do not be shy about sharing. Your challenges are important for us to know and understand. We use this information to reflect on trends and needs, which then shape future funding priorities and other ways that Calgary Learns can support adult learners in our community with and through you.

Records reviews: Each year, Calgary Learns also conducts a number of program records audits. These reviews ensure that the numbers and information we report to the province are well supported by documentation. Our contracts highlight your obligations as a recipient of grants. As a reminder (as it is easiest to plan before rather than after you run a course) you need to:
  1. Save a copy of all advertisements for two years and be sure to include the logo from our website (Nicky put the required Calgary Learns logos that recognizes the funding support of Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education on our website:
  2. Keep student registration records for at least two years.
  3. Keep original attendance records for all classes for at least two years in order that learner numbers can be easily tabulated and verified. Include the name of the instructor on the attendance record as well.
  4. Keep the original student evaluation records (feedback sheets, etc.) for two years so we can see their evaluations in their own words.
  5. Maintain records pertaining to instructors’ qualifications, instructional materials, lesson plans for two years.
  6. Keep financial records of what is specifically spent on or earned as part of the funded program. Our expectations of our grantees reflect basic best practices for tracking program-specific funds. Our records review is not a forensic financial audit although we will sometimes ask for clarification and further documentation for some line items.
Calgary Learns appreciates the opportunity to partner with so many fabulous organizations in order to serve learners. Together we help to ensure that adult foundational learners are better served in Calgary.

Nancy Purdy, Executive Director

Initiative Funding

We'd like to point readers to the four brand new Initiative projects that we will be funding over the next year:
  • Bow Valley College - Answers May Vary’ Guidebook/Video Project
    This project is to create a small guidebook and series of short videos that will help adults with disabilities improve their reading and writing skills. These will be supplementary course materials for volunteer tutors to use with SARAW program literacy students in and out of class. The guidebook and videos suggest successful strategies and resources that literacy tutors can use, including ideas for incorporating literacy skill-buidling activities into daily life. For example, in class, at the zoo, at a restaurant, on the bus. These resources are based on the current “Answers May Vary” research and the previous “Literacy and Disability Study research” and will be made available to anyone interested.
  • Calgary John Howard Society - Community Anger Management Program Pilot
    This project is a series of piloted courses of the Community Anger Management (CAM) program for at-risk and justice system-involved adults. The pilots will be offered at various times (day-time / evenings / weekends) and/or configurations (e.g., possibly female or male-only) to determine how best to meet the needs of voluntary and court-mandated learners. CAM will provide adults in this population with the knowledge, techniques, and resources to effectively understand and control their anger issues.
  • CanLearn Society  - Taking Charge Program, Curriculum Development
    This project will create a participatory curriculum for foundational learners experiencing multiple poverty-related disadvantages. The curriculum will be developed in collaboration with the Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre’s staff and clients. The potential learners will be involved in curriculum development at every stage of the process, from deciding the content, methods and processes of instruction to participating in evaluation.
  • Families Matter Society - Starting Young, Staying Strong
    This is a project to create an 8-week program for young parents (ages 18-23) to provide information, resources and support in the specific challenges that youth parents face. Topics will include healthy and respectful communication and problem solving, self-esteem and self-advocacy, fathering identity through Families Matter’s ‘Be a Great Dad’ overview on positive role modeling, family budgeting, healthy sexual health and communication, and then a final celebration combined with a ‘next steps’ facilitated conversation.
Let Jeannie know if you would like to learn more about any of these Initiatives. She's happy to connect you to the project coordinators. 

LOLA Highlight - Learning Communities category

In April 2014, during our Life Of Learning Awards event, the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre won the LOLA in the Learning Communities category with their Employment Services Training (EST) program. 

The Drop-In’s Employment Services Training (EST) program serves men and women, 16 and over, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and who want to build workplace knowledge and skills. EST has been offering essential skills training and industry certifications since its inception in 2005. The program has grown steadily since then, collaborating with many community partners to increase the diversity and quality of the curriculum. In 2013, EST graduated 144 of 168 students in its core three-week program. Of these graduates, 73% found employment and another 12% went on to further learning—a record success.

The program sees five times more applicants than the Drop-In Centre can accept. Yet, EST continues to reach out to the most vulnerable. A three-week daytime program does not work for everyone, especially those living day-to-day on unpredictable shift work or temporary day labour. EST expanded into flexible drop-in evening hours to reach these individuals. Last year, 1500 learners took advantage of these evening courses. EST staff also participated in Calgary Learns’ Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) program in 2012-2013. Through IFL, staff found new ways to meaningfully assess and address students’ literacy needs.

Some EST participants arrive feeling very unsure of themselves and nervous. At times they have such low self-esteem that it freezes them from learning. Many come with little or no experience with computers and little understanding of most of the industry tickets they will be getting. Typically, as they begin to learn, they gain momentum and accomplish more than they imagined. EST graduates find they can move on with their lives, equipped with new skills for work and life, valuable certifications and, best of all, renewed confidence in themselves.

Bruno Gagne, Debbie Newman, Meaghan Mueller and Valerie Salt from The DI accepting the award from Lorene Anderson (centre), Calgary Learns’  Board Member

Kageegee of Skills

Most of you know of Kijiji, a centralized network of online urban communities for posting local online classified advertisements. People use it to offer, sell and buy product and services.

Through our needs assessment it was suggested that the foundational adult learning sector needed a portal to facilitate sharing of expertise between organizations. In response, Calgary Learns would like to introduce (drum roll): The Kageegee of Skills, a resource that would collect offers and requests of tools, resources and professional development opportunities focussed on adult learning at a foundational level.

If you like the idea, please email Nicky what you can offer, what useful tools/resources you would like to share, or what you are looking for. Here are a few guidelines:
  • Tools and/or resources need to be for adult foundational learning;
  • Training opportunities need to be in Calgary and focus on adult foundational learning.
  • Professional Development can include assessment, evaluation, curriculum, etc and can be in the form of online courses, webinars, classes, presentations, guest speakers.
Once we receive the info, we will add it to our website, newsletter "The Connector" and/or post it on Facebook and Twitter.
Here are a few examples:

Gale Courses at the Calgary Public Library Whether you're looking for professional development or personal enrichment, these six-week online instructor-led courses are the perfect way to learn a new skill or enhance your existing ones. You'll spend roughly two to four hours each week completing two engaging lessons in an enjoyable, interactive learning environment. Expert instructors develop and lead every course, and you'll be able to interact with them and with fellow students in lively online discussion areas. New sessions start every month, so you can sign up any time. Upon completing a course with a passing score, you'll get an award of completion from your learning institution.

Story from the Field - Sandra Loschnig
This project on the Integrating Foundational Learning (IFL) is an innovative training initiative designed to educate and mentor staff in community agencies on how to better integrate essential skills and literacy practices into their program activities. 


Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) continues to be a hot topic, before and since it came into effect on July 1st. The Community Learning Network (CLN) has a webinar available on their website. The webinar was presented by Volunteer Alberta during a Region 5 meeting. Check it out:

f things are not clear, you're not alone. Here's an interesting article: "Imagine Canada seeks clarification from CRTC about anti-spam and charities."
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