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Seeds of Literacy (Cleveland, Ohio)

Seeds of Literacy, an Innovation Grant recipient, was rewarded by the National Literacy Directory for its creative solution to a common literacy challenge: recruiting students and volunteers. Learn more about how Seeds was able to increase its enrollment below.

Helping spread the word and its students

Seeds of Literacy is an innovative adult literacy program that relies on individualized curricula and one-on-one tutoring to help students who were not successful in traditional education settings. With the help of over 250 volunteers, Seeds offers free basic education and GED preparation to nearly 1,000 adults annually. Its official GED test section pass rate is 87 percent – higher than the state rate of 67 percent.

Almost half of Seeds' students hear about its programs and services through word-of-mouth and fliers. To help spread the word and help its students, Seeds created student recruiter positions and hired former or current students who knew the community. Before hitting the streets to knock on doors, the two student recruiters received training on effective communication and outreach skills from the executive director, volunteer and outreach coordinators, and the development officer.

Not only has Seeds' enrollment skyrocketed by 23 percent since June 2016, but these student recruiters were able to gain part-time employment and valuable job skills.

"Positive word-of-mouth advertising carries great weight with our students," said Bonnie Entler, executive director at Seeds. "They trust what peers, family, and friends say about a program."

Seeds will be using its Innovation Grant to print fliers to reach potential students in neighborhood gaps it found using historical data, along with reaching out to potential non-profit partners it identified using United Way's 211 mapping tool system.

Seeds of Literacy is a nonprofit organization that provides FREE GED® preparation and basic education to adults in the Cleveland area.

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.