JUMPSTARTING THE LITERACY LEADERSHIP CONVERSATION

For over 60 years, the International Literacy Association (IRA) has been at the center of reading and literacy education in the United States and internationally, building a membership of 56,000 educators and administrators across 75 countries, a wide-range of teaching and learning resources for classrooms, and highly-respected bodies of literacy research. 


CHALLENGE

More than 800 million people -12% of the world - are illiterate, precluding them from economic and social opportunities that increasingly demand not only traditional reading skills, but also the ability to understand, interpret and think critically. In this context, IRA made the decision to alter course and pivot from a primarily classroom support association to also become a leading advocate for literacy as a tool to transform lives.  The new course began as the IRA changed its brand name to the International Literacy Association (ILA) in early 2015, and set off to empower educators and leaders to help children and adults achieve literacy to thrive in the modern world. 

IDEA

Literacy is understood to be an engine to prosperity, and with this comes the opportunity for ILA to lead. To do so, ILA must build on the legacy of its past while charting new territory, and to utilize that transformation as a catalyst to spark dialogue and affect real change by: 

> Jumpstarting a global conversation that builds awareness and support around the importance of literacy, with ILA’s convenings and existing online platforms at the center
> Forging deeper connections with key influencer organizations, bringing new voices into the discussion and the quest for new solutions

ILA launched a physical and virtual thought leadership series starting with the first annual Leaders for Literacy Day, positioning ILA as a leader and convener in the literacy space among key stakeholders. The day was anchored around a cross-sector roundtable discussion at the International Institute of Education in New York City on how to accelerate literacy outcomes through collective impact, and included several virtual events designed to build the social dialogue around literacy.    

The series continued with a session on the role of school principals in literacy instruction at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha, Qatar, a teacher preparation panel discussion during ILA’s Annual Conference, and a roundtable conversation in Washington D.C. on policies that support multilingualism in education and curriculum.

RESULTS

Within a year, ILA was well on its way to solidifying its legacy as a leading voice dedicated to advancing literacy and as the preeminent association of literacy educators.

ILA strengthened connections with international and national influencers including UNESCO, OECD, UN Foundation, Malala Fund, New America Foundation, Institute of International Education, Pencils of Promise, The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and others.

Through targeted thought leadership efforts, ILA also saw a significant increase in social media interactions and an average growth of 140 Twitter followers each week. Leaders for Literacy Day generated over 2,000 tweets (and 1,000 retweets) and #AgeOfLiteracy was the number one trending topic in its network.