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​Community Action Project of Tulsa County

Community Action Project of Tulsa County (Okla.) was recently selected to receive a National Literacy Directory Innovation Grant for its successful and innovative approach to two-generation programming.

Helping Families Succeed

After listening to non-English speaking parents ask for classes that would cover topics relevant to their everyday lives, CAP Tulsa launched its ESL program loosely based on its successful work-force development program, CareerAdvance.

CAP Tulsa's ESL program includes lessons and activities designed to help equip parents with the language skills necessary to navigate their daily lives and improve child and adult English literacy: dialogic reading; conversation circles and games; practicing important phone calls and in-person conversations; and using technology.

Maria Delgado came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1991. Before entering CAP Tulsa's ESL program, she was only familiar with common English words she saw around town, such as those on signs and ads, and phrases she would hear regularly at her children's school. Since taking English classes from CAP Tulsa, Delgado has gained more than the expected language skills — her new-found confidence has even helped her earn a job.

"Being able to communicate with my co-workers in English is wonderful. I am definitely a more confident worker, too."

By tailoring the curriculum to the needs of non-English speaking parents, CAP Tulsa is able to place an emphasis on relevant life skills, participant voice and advocacy, and parental involvement.

"This program has taught me a lot about parenting skills, how to interact with my children, and be more involved in their educational journey," Delgado says. "The activities we do in class have helped make me a positive role model for my children, my family, and my community. My husband is very proud of me."

To date, this program has served 68 families, and all participants have made significant strides in increasing their English literacy and speaking skills; 22 ESL students graduated to the next level of English proficiency; and 46 increased at least one BEST Plus level.

"CAP Tulsa's ability to find solutions to persistent challenges in its community embodies what the Directory's Innovation Grant represents," said Lisa Avetisian, director of the National Literacy Directory. "More specifically, the English as a Second Language (ESL) program showcases the importance of listening to the voices of students. It's a key step in responding to the needs of adult learners and their families in relevant, real-world ways."

The $1,000 Innovation Grant will fund dialogic reading books for parents enrolled in the agency's ESL program. Each year, program participants receive six books per semester to take home and read with their children after practicing how to create and expand conversations about these books during their ESL classes.

CAP Tulsa's mission is to help young children in lower-income families grow up and achieve economic success through services tailored to meet individual family needs. Each year, CAP serves 2,300 children and their families at 12 Head Start preschool centers and through a home-visiting program.


The National Literacy Directory is a community of innovative leaders, learners, educators, and student-champions that is managed by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). To find out more about future grant opportunities from the Directory, subscribe to NCFL's monthly e-newsletter. To learn about joining the Directory or creating an account, click here.