Section 5 Open the PDF by 2b5145a4cf5ae297


									 Section 5: Special Audiences
Require Customized Programs
                                                                                                                                                                        d Progr
                                                                                                                                                    s Require Customize
                                                                                                                         Section 5: Special Audience

                                                                   Highlights of Section 5:
                                                       Special Audiences Require Customized Programs

o	 One Mission, Several Audiences  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 93
   o		 Creating Programs For and With Seniors  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 93
   o		 Do-It-Yourself Financing for Senior Programs  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 95
   o		 Starting an Intergenerational Program  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 97
   o		 Helping Youth Achieve Success  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 98
   o		 Offer Independent Learning Opportunities  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 101
   o		 Participate in Special Learning Opportunities  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 102
   o		 Provide Free Time and Special Events  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 102
   o		 Recruit Staff and Volunteers  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 102
   o		 Build Community Partnerships  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 103
   o		 Meeting the Needs of Adult Literacy Students  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 107
   o		 Develop a Work Plan  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 109
   o		 Some Tools of the Trade  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 109
   o		 Combining Methods and Technology to Develop Skills  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 112
   o		 Resources for Adult Literacy Learners  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 112
   o		 Developing Programs for Rural Centers  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 114
   o		 Linking Residents to Healthcare Resources  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 115

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        September 2006
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                         Special Audiences Require
                           Customized Programs

One Mission, Several Audiences                                 •	 Residents of rural communities.
                                                               •	 Residents in need of healthcare information,

            hile all Neighborhood Networks centers                support, and resources.
            share the same mission—moving residents
            toward self-sufficiency—the audiences              Creating Programs For and
they serve and how they work to achieve this goal are          With Seniors
very different. For example, the programs offered by
centers located on senior properties may be very dif-          According to the Population Division of the United
ferent from the programs offered by centers located            Nations, 1 of every 10 people is now 60 years old or
on properties serving families and residents focused           older—by 2050, 1 of every 5 people will be 60 years
on securing employment. The program offerings at               old or older. This translates to thousands of poten-
centers that serve senior residents may include pre-           tial participants for center programs. But the role of
sentations on health issues, free health screenings, or        senior residents at Neighborhood Networks centers
computer training that teaches residents how to use            should not solely be viewed as a recipient of servic-
the Internet to obtain health information, as well as          es. Seniors can also contribute to center programs by
connect with families and friends all over the world.          tutoring and mentoring young residents and bridging
Centers with a target population focused on securing           the generational divide.
employment and raising families may offer workforce
development, academic enhancement, literacy, and               Delivering Services That Seniors Need
afterschool programs. And still other centers may              Senior services work best when they combine a num-
determine that their most needed programs are those            ber of different approaches to improving the quality
that help residents in rural communities overcome              of life for seniors and helping them live indepen-
challenges in achieving self-sufficiency.                      dently. Neighborhood Networks centers can provide
                                                               a variety of programs and services, including:
With hundreds of Neighborhood Networks centers
across the nation—in cities, suburbs, and small                •	 Social services. Social service programs for
towns—no two centers are the same. For a center                   seniors are especially necessary in low-income
to be successful, it must assess the specific needs of            housing communities, and HUD’s Neighborhood
residents, and then develop and deliver programs                  Networks Initiative can help fill this need. Senior
that meet these needs.                                            programs at Neighborhood Networks centers
                                                                  can include production of resident newsletters,
The following section focuses on how Neighborhood                 computer literacy classes, health and nutrition
Networks centers can meet the needs of five special               programs, community gardening, cultural outings,
audiences:                                                        and mentoring projects with local schoolchildren.

•	 Seniors.                                                    •	 Healthcare services. Thanks to technological
                                                                  advances in medicine, Americans are living
•	 Youth.                                                         longer, healthier lives. Many seniors, however,
•	 Adult literacy students.                                       must manage multiple health conditions that may

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   impede their ability to continue living indepen-                largely by senior residents, center directors may
   dently. Some Neighborhood Networks centers                      consider modifying the lab to meet senior needs.
   offer onsite healthcare screenings for seniors,                 For example, computer tables may be elevated to
   while others ensure that seniors have the lat-                  accommodate wheelchairs, computer keyboards
   est information about access to healthcare and                  could be outfitted with large-letter stickers, and a
   prescription drugs benefits. The Kraus Computer                 magnifying apparatus could be attached to moni-
   Learning Center in Brooklyn, New York, organized                tors to assist the visually impaired.
   a registration drive to help seniors enroll in the
                                                                   Neighborhood Networks centers can also help
   first cycle of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
                                                                   senior residents obtain important healthcare infor-
   Many seniors heard that the plan could save them
                                                                   mation by providing Internet access and helping
   a considerable sum of money, but were intimidat-
                                                                   them navigate the Web to find the information
   ed about signing up because they also heard that
                                                                   they need. Using the Internet, seniors can research
   navigating the Medicare Web site was complicated
                                                                   the safety of new medicines, join online support
   and knowing which plan to select was difficult.
                                                                   groups, investigate alternative therapies, and learn
   More than 15 seniors participated in the center’s
                                                                   about health insurance benefits. Online scientific
   Medicare Prescription Drug Plan sign-up support
                                                                   journals provide a wealth of information about
   program. As a result of the seniors’ participation
                                                                   the latest research and advancements in medicine.
   in the sign–up program, center staff members
                                                                   The Internet allows seniors to research medical
   estimate that these seniors saved a total of more
                                                                   conditions and make informed decisions regarding
   than $25,000.
                                                                   their health. Some useful Web sites include:
•	 Computer training. For many seniors, family and
                                                                   •	 Administration on Aging,
   friends no longer live nearby, leaving them with a
   sense of isolation. To help seniors overcome this,              •	 American Heart Association,
   centers may offer programs that introduce seniors        
   to basic computing or improve their existing com-               •	 American Lung Association,
   puter skills. Seniors often prefer to learn about
   computers in classes made up of other seniors.                  •	 American Diabetes Association,
   Offering a “seniors only” session may spark inter-       
   est in the center and make seniors more likely                  •	 American Cancer Society,
   to return. Some centers choose to offer senior
   programming during the day, when children                       •	 Alzheimer’s Association,
   attend school and most adults work. Computer                    •	 Arthritis Foundation,
   classes and activities may include games, such as
   online chess or backgammon; e-mail communica-                   •	 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
   tions with family and friends; electronic travel         
   exploration via the Internet or CD-ROM programs;                •	 Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA),
   financial planning; and family tree programs and                   the agency that administers Medicaid
   genealogical research. Another popular activity is                 ( and
   to put learned computer skills to use in the cre-                  Medicare (
   ation of a community newsletter. The newsletter
                                                                   •	 Mayo Clinic,
   could highlight resident meetings, trips, activities,
   and news about the property and community.                      •	 National Institutes of Health Age Pages,
   By participating in newsletter production, seniors       
   learn new technology skills, increase interaction
                                                                   •	 SeniorNet,
   with other seniors, and develop a recognizable
   product. If a computer lab is going to be used

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   •	 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,            Senior residents have also sponsored activities that
      which produces fact sheets about a variety of            benefit the greater community. These activities have
      health issues,                      included providing clothing for children, food boxes,
                                                               and other household items to families in need during
   •	 Miscellaneous health sites, including
                                                               the holiday season. Residents have also collected,, and
                                                               eyeglasses for local nonprofit agencies and aluminum
                                                               flip tops from soft drink cans to support the Ronald
   When accessing information from the Internet,               McDonald House.
   users should always exercise caution because not
   all information is reliable. Major healthcare deci-         Resources for Developing Senior Programs
   sions should be made in concert with a physician.
                                                               A number of organizations can help Neighborhood
•	 Recreational activities. Aging populations have             Networks centers develop and expand their programs
   increased leisure time and sometimes require                for seniors. These organizations can provide informa-
   social interaction and activities to fill this void.        tion, technical assistance, and financial resources.
   Neighborhood Networks centers also act as
   venues for senior recreational events and offer             Information and Technical Assistance
   activities such as game nights, birthday celebra-
   tions, social outings, and seasonal gatherings.             American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),
   Creating a community garden is another way        
   to engage seniors. Gardening increases exercise             AARP is a national membership organization for
   opportunities, provides inexpensive meal supple-            people 50 years of age or older. Its primary functions
   ments, and contributes to the overall nutritional
   health of the seniors and their neighbors. Resi-
   dent garden committees work with the property
   management to adopt garden use rules at each                        Nation’s Top Grant-Making
   site. The committees also raise funds as needed                  Organizations for Senior Programs
   for tools and supplies. (See Section 8 for more
   information about creating a community garden.)                 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Do-It-Yourself Financing for                                       Pew Charitable Trusts
Senior Programs                                          

To help finance senior programs and allow senior                   The Commonwealth Fund
residents to contribute to their community, centers      
may want to enlist the help of seniors to raise funds.
                                                                   Surdna Foundation
For example, at Kirkland Union Manor in Portland,
Oregon, senior residents participate in a range of
fundraising activities. These activities have included             American Federation for Aging Research
coordinating a community-wide rummage sale at the        
property. All proceeds of the sale were donated to
the resident council to be used for senior activities              These organizations offer hundreds of grants
as needed.                                                         annually, totaling as much as $180 million . Visit
                                                                   their Web sites for additional information about
                                                                   grant application requirements and deadlines .

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are legislative advocacy, research, information, and               National Council on Aging (NCOA),
community services. AARP has a wealth of publica-
                                                                   NCOA is a membership organization of community-
tions and audio-visual materials that can be ordered
                                                                   based groups committed to aging issues. The orga-
from its publication catalog. Local AARP offices also
                                                                   nization provides educational programs on aging,
may provide program ideas and materials. Visit the
                                                                   participates in legislative advocacy, provides informa-
AARP Web site or contact AARP at 601 E Street, NW,
                                                                   tion about funding sources, and conducts research
Washington, DC 20049; (888) 687–2277.
                                                                   on aging issues. Visit their Web site or contact the
Generations United,                                     NCOA at 1901 L Street, NW, Fourth Floor,
                                                                   Washington, DC 20036; (202) 479–1200.
Generations United is a national coalition that helps
bridge generation gaps through online intergenera-                 Financial Information
tional resources and programs. The organization
works with Generations United coalitions across the                Administration on Aging (AoA), U.S. Department
country to link individuals of different generations               of Health and Human Services,
with the organizations that represent them. Visit                  This government organization provides funding to
their Web site or contact Generations United at                    and information about senior programs. The office
1331 H Street, NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005;                has a resource directory for seniors that contains
(202) 289–3979.                                                    contact data on organizations providing information
                                                                   and other resources regarding the needs of older
Green Thumb, Inc.                                                  people. Visit the AoA Web site or contact the organi-                            zation at One Massachusetts Avenue, SW, Suites 4100
Since 1965, Green Thumb, Inc. has provided train-                  and 5100, Washington, DC 20201; (202) 619–0724.
ing and employment opportunities to more than
                                                                   The Commonwealth Fund,
half a million people nationwide. Green Thumb has
helped low-income seniors achieve self-sufficiency by              The Commonwealth Fund’s primary goal is to help
providing highly effective, customer-focused employ-               Americans live healthy, productive lives and to assist
ment and training programs. Visit their Web site or                targeted groups with serious or neglected problems.
contact Green Thumb at P.O. Box 1475, Beaverton,                   Its priorities include advancing the well-being of the
OR 97075; (503) 649–0941.                                          elderly. Visit The Commonwealth Fund’s Web site
                                                                   or contact the organization at One East 75th Street,
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging,                    New York, NY 10021–2692; (212) 606–3800.
                                                                   The Pew Charitable Trusts,
The organization provides communications, training,
and technical assistance to educate and advocate                   Pew makes funds available to nonprofit organizations
about aging issues. The Web site links to local Area               for programs that encourage individual achievement,
Agencies on Aging offices that can provide techni-                 cross-disciplinary problem solving, and innovative
cal assistance and funding. Visit their Web site or                approaches to meeting changing needs. The Trusts’
contact the National Association of Area Agencies on               Health and Human Services program is designed
Aging at 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 1200,                 to promote the health and well-being of Americans
Washington, DC 20036; (202) 872–0888.                              and to strengthen disadvantaged communities. Visit
                                                                   Pew’s Web site or contact the foundation at 2005
                                                                   Market Street, Suite 1700, Philadelphia, PA 19103–
                                                                   7077; (215) 575–9050.

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Intergenerational Programs: Linking Youth                        org for more information). Contact local schools,
with Past Cultures and Traditions                                childcare agencies, youth centers, or youth organi-
                                                                 zations, such as the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls,
Neighborhood Networks centers provide an ideal                   etc. Identify one or two teachers or youth center
setting to bring young and old together through                  leaders to coordinate the program and serve as a
programs and activities designed to share knowledge              liaison with parents.
between both groups. Programs designed to help
seniors can focus on specific needs, but also provide         •	 Establish measurable goals and objectives.
an opportunity to bridge a generational divide.                  In order to have a successful program, the goals
                                                                 and objectives of the senior center and the youth
Intergenerational programs offer residents an oppor-             program should be similar. For example, one goal
tunity to share their experiences and help young chil-           could be for program participants to remain
dren and adults understand their own history. These              active in the program for the entire school year.
lifelong learning programs keep seniors engaged in               Section 2: Starting a Neighborhood Networks
the community and provide opportunities for older                Center offers a detailed description of establishing
persons to share their knowledge and experience                  goals and objectives.
with other generations. Intergenerational activities          •	 Develop a monitoring and evaluation plan.
provide a forum to establish a link between young                Continuous oversight and periodic review of
children and past cultures and traditions.                       the program help to identify what parts of the
                                                                 program are working and what parts need to be
Starting an Intergenerational Program                            revised. The evaluation should assess whether
                                                                 goals and objectives are met. For example, if one
Steps to develop an intergenerational program for
                                                                 goal is for participants to remain in the program
seniors will vary depending on local goals and
                                                                 for the entire school year, the evaluation plan
resources. Effective planning and ongoing communi-
                                                                 would measure the length of time that partici-
cation between the two groups, as well as teachers
                                                                 pants attended planned events. START provides
and center staff members, are staples of any program.
                                                                 guidance on monitoring and evaluating programs.
Generations United, a national coalition working
to promote intergenerational policy, programs, and            •	 Begin with a clear and realistic program design
issues, recommends the following steps to start an               and budget. Advance planning of activities and
intergenerational program for seniors:                           early identification of available resources avoid
                                                                 problematic last-minute attempts to establish and
•	 Conduct a needs assessment or survey of
                                                                 run a program. Start early to obtain parental per-
   seniors. The assessment can be formal or informal.
                                                                 mission, achieve senior consensus, and find funds
   A center director may learn of senior interests and
                                                                 for events. Find a consistent place and time for
   needs through daily interactions with residents.
                                                                 activities to help encourage regular attendance by
   Other centers may need a more formal tool, such
                                                                 seniors and students.
   as a survey or questionnaire to identify interest
   areas and to indicate willingness to participate in        •	 Ensure that transportation is available. Students
   requested activities. The Strategic Tracking and              and seniors participating in the program may
   Reporting Tool (START) provides guidance on                   require transportation to attend activities. Existing
   conducting a needs assessment.                                modes of transportation, such as a school bus or
                                                                 resident van, can help increase the level of partici-
•	 Build a partnership with area schools and youth
                                                                 pation. Centers without vehicles may consider a
   organizations. Work with one or two organiza-
                                                                 partnership with a public transportation company,
   tions, such as the local Parent Teacher Associa-
                                                                 local community center, or faith-based organiza-
   tion (visit the national PTA Web site at www.pta.
                                                                 tion to provide transportation.

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•	 Recruit, select, and match participants. Centers                Helping Youth Achieve Success
   can try various methods for recruiting partici-
   pants, including describing the program during                  Youth education programs are a major focus for
   the monthly resident council meeting, advertising               Neighborhood Networks centers serving HUD FHA-
   the program in community newsletters, posting a                 insured and -assisted apartment properties with a
   signup sheet in common areas of the apartment                   large proportion of families. Many of these centers
   complex, holding a potential participant introduc-              are using technology to help children achieve
   tion meeting, and discussing the program with                   academic success, expand career horizons, and
   teachers and having them provide information to                 promote critical thinking skills.
                                                                   The following section strives to help Neighborhood
•	 Prepare and train staff and participants.                       Networks center staff members and partners create
   Preparation and training will ensure that staff                 effective programs for young people under the age
   and participants achieve lifelong learning goals.               of 18.
   Generations United has online intergenerational
   resources and programs to help prepare staff and                Key Challenges of Youth Programming
   participants. Visit the Generations United Web site
   at                                                  Neighborhood Networks centers face five key
                                                                   challenges in developing effective youth programs:
•	 Coordinate and supervise activities. Intergenera-
   tional program coordinators should work closely                 •	 Articulating a clear guiding purpose. Youth
   with one another to facilitate activities.                         activities will vary depending on each center’s
•	 Recognize and support participants. Periodic                       overall mission and program goals. Whatever the
   activities that recognize volunteer efforts encour-                specific mix, however, youth programming should
   age participants to continue in the program. For                   help young people master technology. The idea is
   example, one center held a winter holiday dinner                   to reinforce children’s basic technology skills and
   and musical to express appreciation for the senior                 enable them to handle with confidence whatever
   participants. In turn, seniors hosted an end-of-                   technology they may later encounter.
   the-school year barbecue for the students. Both                 •	 Determining the focus of youth programs. Some
   activities celebrated the time and effort that the                 Neighborhood Networks center programs help
   students and seniors invested in the program.                      young people with homework and tie technology
                                                                      use to school-related projects. Others focus on of-
Appendix F includes detailed descriptions of senior                   fering non-school-related activities and structured
programs operating at four Neighborhood Networks                      projects. Most centers allow for free time or games
centers.                                                              after homework is completed. Some programs use
                                                                      an open lab approach. Others use the computer
                                                                      lab as an adjunct to other afterschool activities,
                                                                      such as arts and crafts, scouting, or a broader
                                                                      enrichment or personal empowerment program.
                                                                      Neighborhood Networks centers sometimes in-
                                                                      clude programs for preschoolers, and some have
                                                                      intergenerational activities.
                                                                     What is the best approach? The one that best fits
                                                                     the needs and goals of residents. Ideally, centers
                                                                     will provide school support programs, but these
                                                                     will be just the beginning. Whatever the mix,

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  staff, children, and parents should all help deter-        •	 Designing learning experiences that use
  mine the scope and limits of the center’s youth               technology as a tool. The prime time for youth
  activities.                                                   programs is late afternoon when centers offer
                                                                afterschool activities. Some centers may seek
•	 Paying attention to developmental stages.
                                                                to respond to the needs of working parents by
   Devising a learning environment and activities
                                                                providing general childcare and entertainment.
   that are appropriate for different age groups is a
                                                                But Neighborhood Networks centers and center
   critical challenge in youth programming. Activi-
                                                                youth programs can, and should, be much more.
   ties will need to accommodate children’s varying
                                                                To make best use of the investment in technology,
   developmental and social skills. The space itself,
                                                                it is important for the center to develop an active
   for example, should be adaptable for small, as
                                                                and clearly defined educational program that
   well as full-sized people and arranged for ease of
                                                                complements recreation programs and socializing
   supervision. Scheduling must take into account
                                                                with friends. The center is a place to learn by
   children’s attention spans and enthusiasm. Center
                                                                doing. When staff create that expectation, children
   staff members need special information about
                                                                respect it, and the center can be both manageable
   younger users, including parental permissions and
                                                                and enjoyable. In creating a safe and comfortable
   telephone numbers.
                                                                activity space, the center can teach the key lesson
                                                                that learning is fun.
  Software choices should include carefully se-
  lected programs. Software that requires fine motor         •	 Securing resources to maintain an effective
  control of the mouse and an understanding of                  learning environment. Money is essential for all
  relatively advanced facts or complex concepts will            Neighborhood Networks centers, but it is only
  be inappropriate for younger children. Software               part of the equation for the best youth-oriented
  stressing simplicity and repetition will bore older           centers. Equally important are thoughtful,
  children. Although the center should always be                creative, and flexible staff members, both paid
  staffed, younger children need more structure and             and volunteers. Developing effective working
  supervision, while older ones need more flexibil-             relationships with other community organizations,
  ity and independence. Younger users probably will             especially education agencies, is also a key
  need some assistance in focusing their attention              program component. Good partnerships not only
  and energy in the lab. This need not be intrusive             attract varied resources to the center, they also
  control; asking them to sign in and designate a               create a sense for residents of being connected to
  preferred activity may be sufficient.                         the greater community.
  Ideally, different age groups will be scheduled to
  be in the center at separate times, although there         Effective Strategies for Youth Programming
  may be some open family time. The center may               Support School Success
  need different rules about which equipment can
                                                             Neighborhood Networks centers can support aca-
  be used. For example, while eight-year-olds may
                                                             demic success by helping with homework and school
  confidently use a “paint” program independently,
                                                             projects, providing information for children and
  use of scanners and photo imaging software might
                                                             parents about working effectively with the schools,
  be restricted to older children or require direct
                                                             and offering opportunities for participation in special
  staff supervision. Neighborhood Networks centers
                                                             programs and events to strengthen academic skills.
  offering Internet access also must give attention
                                                             In developing effective school support programs,
  to special issues of safety for their younger users
                                                             Neighborhood Networks centers should:
  and be prepared to work with parents in setting
  boundaries for children’s activities.                      •	 Learn about residents’ schools. Centers should
                                                                make a special effort to reach out to the schools

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   their resident users attend. Center staff should
   ask school principals and technology coordinators
   about the computer technology used at school                                 Web Sites that Offer
   and the school’s expectations about computer                                  Software Reviews
   access at students’ homes. Teachers and school
                                                                    Children’s Technology Review
   officials will be glad to learn about the Neighbor-
   hood Networks center offerings, and many will be
   eager to help center staff provide a smooth con-                 This site complements the Children’s Technology
   nection between school and home. It may also be                  Review, a print magazine with news about the
   possible to develop relationships with particular                Internet and software, feature articles, and book
   teachers. Among the topics to discuss are: What                  reviews . The site’s most popular feature is the
   kind of computers and software are the schools                   searchable database, the Children’s Software
   using for different age groups? At what age and
                                                                    FinderTM, that includes thousands of software
   for what types of projects are children expected
                                                                    reviews . Access to search the site’s database
   to use the Internet for research? What policies do
                                                                    requires having a subscription to the Children’s
   the schools have for Internet use? Are there cur-
   riculum frameworks and standards for technology                  Technology Review . Children’s Technology Review
   skills? Will the schools provide free or low-cost                is published by Active Learning Associates .
   copies (including manuals and teachers’ guides)                  Superkids Educational Software Review
   of educational software currently in use? Will the     
   schools provide training or other resources for
   center staff? How can your center benefit from a                 This site includes software reviews by children,
   community service requirement?                                   parents, and teachers . There is also a set of forms
                                                                    for contributing reviews .
•	 Provide an appropriate working space. If the
   Neighborhood Networks center will serve as a                     Learning Village
   homework center, it needs work tables and mate-        
   rials, as well as computers and related equipment.
   Some centers may be able to find additional space                Learning Village is an independent review and
   (and staff or volunteer supervisors) for homework                advisory center for parents and teachers who
   activities. Very small centers may be precluded                  are looking for credible information on the best
   from offering general homework supervision but                   in educational software . Reviews are organized
   may be able to help children use computers to                    by learning area .
   work on specific projects.
                                                                    Review Corner
•	 Use appropriate equipment and software. The            
   most versatile software programs are the stan-
   dard office packages that can be used for writing,               This Web site rates educational software on a
   math, and organizing stories and reports, supple-                five-star system . The site looks for products that
   mented by reference programs on CD-ROMs and                      are thoughtfully designed and produced and
   the Internet. Because younger children may find a                that offer positive, encouraging, and socially
   full-fledged word processor overwhelming, centers                responsible experiences to the children who
   with very young participants may want to use a                   use them .
   simplified “Works” program. Matching the center’s
   word processing software to school software is
   advisable. Other core software might include a

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  children’s drawing program, publishing program,               Offer Independent Learning
  typing program, and Web page editor.
  There is an ever-growing supply of software                   Neighborhood Networks centers can provide a wide
  labeled “educational” available in the market-                range of learning experiences for young users to
  place, but some of it is not very educational at              develop creativity, intellectual independence, and
  all. Useful academic software for young users are             critical thinking. The center can encourage children
  varying levels of math, grammar, and language                 to learn in a more relaxed environment, without the
  reviews, and SAT preparation software. Often,                 structure and pressure of tests and grades. Staff can
  such software uses music, graphics, and games                 work with children to identify their interests and
  designed to make the work more fun. In choosing               devise appropriate projects. Activities can range from
  software, the most important questions are:                   simple drawing or illustrating stories with clip art to
                                                                more complex projects like creating Web pages or
   •	 Will it actively engage users in learning rather
      than just mouse-clicking drills?
   •	 Do games and other features support or detract
      from learning?                                                           Web Sites that Offer
                                                                                Homework Help
   •	 Will the software help users do something
      new or better?
                                                                    Ask Dr . Math
   •	 Is it easy to use and support in your center?       
   •	 Is the software, especially its games, consistent             Learners of all ages can ask math questions at
      with the values of your program?                              this site, which also features archives of answers
                                                                    and other information about math problems
  Center staff should ask children for their software
                                                                    and topics .
  wish list before purchasing programs. The center
  may be able to get a review copy and have the
  children test it. Center staff may also want to con-              Discovery’s Homework Help
  sult a software review site on the Web or software      
  reviews in various publications.                                  homeworkhelp/homework_help_home.html

•	 Provide adequate and appropriate supervision.                    This site contains hundreds of links to reference
   Many children will need help developing good                     works and other resources that are appropriate
   homework habits, in addition to assistance with                  for students of all ages .
   understanding specific assignments and tasks.
   Neighborhood Networks centers may need to re-                    MadSci Network
   cruit parents, grandparents, older youth, or other     
   volunteers to check homework, offer encourage-
   ment, and monitor the children’s progress. All                   There is interesting and fun scientific informa-
   supervisors should understand how to help stu-                   tion on this site . Centers may find it especially
   dents without taking over. Some schools provide                  useful for homework help . Professional scientists
   a call-in telephone line or television program for               answer questions from students of all ages . The
   homework help, and some teachers now arrange                     site includes an archive of previous questions
   for e-mail help. Online homework resources are                   and answers .
   also available.

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learning to write a new game program with audio                     Provide Free Time and Special Events
and video effects.
                                                                    A center that targets homework support ideally also
Activities can readily be geared to different ages and              will provide free time or open lab time. Most children
computer skill levels. A group of 12-year-olds, for                 are motivated by the chance to pursue their own
example, might help plan a community garden and,                    projects. Older youth may be independent enough
in the process, learn to use a variety of computer                  to participate in adult open lab time and appreciate
programs, including drawing programs, word pro-                     being considered an adult for that purpose. Younger
cessing to write a survey identifying residents’ plant              children may need separate time set aside as part of
preferences, and the Internet or a CD-ROM program                   the afterschool program or as family time, when they
to research growing cycles. Another group might                     bring an older sibling or adult to the center. Inter-
write a cookbook of residents’ favorite recipes, or                 generational activities can contribute significantly to
prepare a community newsletter with photographs                     the quality of life in a housing development. Pos-
taken with a digital camera. Younger children might                 sible projects might include working together on a
use a paint program to outline pictures for place-                  residents’ newsletter or designing decorations for a
mats, which they could then color with crayons and                  community room.
laminate. Or they could use word processing and clip
art to write and illustrate a joke book. Older children             Most centers will develop a core program that fills
might participate in a college or job preparation                   the daily schedule and weekly calendar. But time can
project in which they use computers to research job                 still be set aside for special programs. It is especially
opportunities and prepare résumés and applications.                 important to provide opportunities for parents to
Such activities may be organized into larger projects               learn about the center and their children’s activities.
or clubs.                                                           A Neighborhood Networks center can give parents a
                                                                    safe, comfortable place to raise questions about tech-
                                                                    nology issues, even if they are not participating in
Participate in Special Learning                                     other center programs. In addition to “show and tell”
Opportunities                                                       sessions where the children display their new skills
Neighborhood Networks centers may be able to par-                   for their parents, centers might offer special events
ticipate in special projects and competitions designed              like student-parent sessions on using the Internet to
primarily, but not exclusively, for school classes.                 explore college options or a discussion on Internet
These include programs such as ThinkQuest, an                       safety issues such as participating in chat rooms and
international competition in which students ages 9 to               dealing with inappropriate materials on the World
19 and teachers are challenged to create the best edu-              Wide Web. Public school and library staff may be
cational Web sites, and the International Education                 available to participate in such programs.
and Resource Network’s (iEARN) communications
and writing projects. Centers might also create joint               Recruit Staff and Volunteers
projects with other Neighborhood Networks centers,
                                                                    Computers are no substitute for good coaches and
community technology centers, or nearby schools.
                                                                    teachers. The most effective Neighborhood Networks
Such activities may demand a different kind of staff
                                                                    center youth programs feature a strong center direc-
involvement beyond coaching children in computer
                                                                    tor, funding for additional youth staff, and volunteers
programs or helping with homework. Community or
                                                                    to complement center staff. Centers use a variety of
industry volunteers are excellent resources.
                                                                    staffing arrangements, including part-time and con-
                                                                    tract employees. A few centers have a full-time youth
                                                                    education coordinator. Increasingly, centers are train-
                                                                    ing residents to help staff youth programs. Even the
                                                                    strongest centers rarely have all the paid staff they

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need for their youth programs. Therefore, centers               supervise children, but often volunteers can play a
should think of volunteer staffing as a strategy, with          more significant role.
a plan for recruiting, training, and recognizing the
volunteers.                                                     The best programs invite volunteers to add to the
                                                                knowledge and skills available at the center and
National programs, such as AmeriCorps VISTA:                    expose young people to a larger group of success-
Volunteers in Service To America, can be an excel-              ful adults and mentors. See Section 6 for additional
lent source of volunteers for Neighborhood Networks             information on recruiting volunteers.
centers. These volunteers are recruited for year-long,
full-time positions in local public agencies or private         Build Community Partnerships
nonprofit organizations. For more information about
the VISTA program, visit the AmeriCorps Web site                Successful youth programs draw heavily on partner-
(                                           ships with public and private agencies to support
                                                                their youth education activities. Schools and com-
Churches and other private organizations also have              munity colleges are key places to seek partners and
volunteer programs, as do a growing number of                   such relationships can be extremely beneficial for the
colleges and high schools that now have community               center and its users. Successful partnerships take real
service requirements. Centers may be able to interest           effort to establish and sustain. Schools operate in a
individual college and graduate/education students              more structured and formal system than Neighbor-
or employees from a nearby business in volunteer-               hood Networks centers and some officials may be
ing. Residents who have graduated from adult                    slow to see centers as educational peers. It can be
programs at Neighborhood Networks centers can be                helpful to cultivate one person in the school as
trained to help with youth programs. Such volunteer             a “champion” to help develop a good working
work may be structured as part of a path leading to             relationship.
paid employment. Many centers use volunteers to

                                         Federal Education Initiatives
    21st Century Community Learning Centers is a federal program that funds school-based afterschool learning
    activities . Each project must establish a working partnership with community partners, such as Ys or Boys &
    Girls Clubs . In some communities, Neighborhood Networks centers may be able to become partners or
    provide services . For more information, visit their Web site at

    Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) was designed to increase
    the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education . GEAR
    UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high
    schools . GEAR UP grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and
    follow the cohort through high school . GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-
    income students . For more information, visit .

    Neighborhood Networks centers should reach out to their local school system to learn about participating .
    In some cases, a center representative may be asked to serve on a local coordinating committee—which can
    open doors for other resources . Materials developed for these programs will be available, usually at no cost, for
    use in center programs . For more information, call (800) USA–LEARN .

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Good communications skills also are necessary for                   Nearby businesses and labor groups may also be
establishing and maintaining strong school partner-                 interested in partnering with Neighborhood Net-
ships. Both schools and Neighborhood Networks                       works centers. A bank, for example, might provide
centers share a mutual interest in helping children                 funds, volunteers, surplus furniture, office supplies,
learn. Focusing on specific projects—creating suc-                  or equipment, and/or help develop and present proj-
cesses in the partnership—can provide a basis for                   ects related to banking and credit for older children.
more far-reaching activities.                                       Other nearby employers and unions also may be
                                                                    interested in providing information about career pos-
Federally funded education programs now stress the                  sibilities, as well as volunteer opportunities for their
importance of community collaborations. A strong                    staff, both in person and online.
relationship with education agencies may open up
opportunities for acquiring equipment and materi-                   Other e-mail lists and Internet news groups dealing
als, volunteers, or even participating as a community               with technology education may provide opportuni-
partner in a large-scale grant or other program not                 ties to discuss questions ranging from educational
otherwise open to Neighborhood Networks centers.                    theory to installing computer memory. Most states
See Section 6 for additional information on building                have an organization serving school teachers using
partnerships.                                                       technology, and these may provide center staff with
                                                                    useful contacts, program ideas, and even discounts
Helpful Resources                                                   on software. A contact list for these groups can be
                                                                    found at This list includes a
Neighborhood Networks centers can turn to a wealth
                                                                    wide variety of resources providing curriculum and
of resources to support their youth program plan-
                                                                    activity ideas, as well as other useful information for
ning and activities. First among these are community
                                                                    technology-based youth education programs. The
                                                                    universe of such resources online is growing rapidly,
                                                                    and includes:
The nearest public library is a good place to start to
find a partner for a Neighborhood Networks cen-                     •	 American Library Association ( In
ter youth education program. Many libraries have                       addition to comprehensive resources about public
received grants from government or technology                          libraries, this site includes a page of references
companies to expand computer access, and many                          for children and their caregivers, including sug-
now provide free public Internet access. Library staff                 gestions for books, as well as online links, and
can help develop or share teaching materials. Librar-                  The Librarian’s Guide to Great Web Sites for Kids,
ies also have print resources that may be useful,                      which covers a range of topics and issues about
and they may be willing to acquire materials, such                     using the Internet safely and effectively.
as computer magazines, books, software, and CD-                     •	 Blue Web’n (
ROMs, that a center budget cannot support.                             bluewebn). Blue Web’n is a searchable database
                                                                       of outstanding Internet learning sites categorized
Library staff often have developed training on using                   by subject area, audience, and type (lessons, ac-
Web search engines and other research techniques                       tivities, projects, resources, references, and tools).
and will be eager to help residents learn to use their                 It can be especially useful for planning classes
online catalogues. Again, the best partnerships will                   and activities for all age groups, and includes on-
offer mutual benefits. While the library may be able                   line activities for learners. The Blue Web’n Weekly
to provide supplementary resources, center staff and                   Update is an e-mail notice of the week’s new
advanced users, including youth, may be able to                        hot picks.
assist the library in presenting and marketing special
events on the Internet, for example.

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•	 College Board ( College                   provide children and needy families better access
   Board is a national, nonprofit membership as-                   to food and a more healthful diet through its food
   sociation dedicated to preparing, inspiring, and                assistance programs and comprehensive nutri-
   connecting students to college and opportunity.                 tion education efforts. FNS has elevated nutrition
   Founded in 1990, the association is composed of                 and nutrition education to a top priority in all its
   several thousands of schools, colleges, universi-               programs. In addition to providing access to nutri-
   ties, and other educational organizations. Each                 tious foods, FNS also works to empower program
   year, the College Board serves millions of students             participants with knowledge of the link between
   and their parents and several thousands of high                 diet and health.
   schools and colleges through major programs and
                                                                •	 Healthfinder ( This U.S.
   services in college admission, guidance, assess-
                                                                   Department of Health and Human Services gate-
   ment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and
                                                                   way site links to a wide variety of information and
   learning. Among its best-known programs are the
                                                                   resources on health, including medical diction-
   SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, and the Advanced Place-
                                                                   aries, support groups, hotlines, clinical reports,
   ment Program® (AP).
                                                                   medical journals, and other resources accessible
•	 Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)                   to the general public. You can also call the
   ( (1–800–LET–ERIC). This feder-                 National Health Information Center.
   ally funded information system provides services
                                                                •	 iEARN (International Education and Resource
   and products on a broad range of education is-
                                                                   Network) ( iEARN is a nonprofit
   sues. Offerings include practical and theoretical
                                                                   organization made up of over 20,000 schools in
   information on teaching and learning, such as
                                                                   more than 115 countries. iEARN empowers teach-
   digests of journal articles, lesson plans, and links
                                                                   ers and young people to work together online
   to other Web sites. The ERIC clearinghouses have
                                                                   using the Internet and other new communications
   a variety of brochures, guides, and tip sheets for
                                                                   technologies. Over 1 million students each day are
   teachers and parents, including Getting On Line:
                                                                   engaged in collaborative project work worldwide.
   A Friendly Guide for Teachers, Students, and
   Parents, and others on topics from teaching chil-            •	 Internet Public Library ( This site
   dren about the environment to helping children                  aims to organize the Internet for all ages. It in-
   with their homework, assessing teacher quali-                   cludes separate KidSpace and TeenSpace sections,
   fications, and evaluating the appropriateness of                with age-appropriate activities and links. The
   school curriculum and instruction. Many of the                  KidSpace page includes reference materials;
   most useful and accessible subsites are pulled                  information on a variety of subjects, including his-
   together as the National Parent Information                     tory, health, art, science, reading, and sports; and
   Network (                                         even a games section. The TeenSpace page offers
                                                                   help with homework, creative outlets, and infor-
•	 The Educator’s Reference Desk (www.eduref.
                                                                   mation on a variety of topics, including health,
   org). This site provides high-quality resources and
                                                                   technology, money, and sports.
   services to the education community. The Edu-
   cator’s Reference Desk offers thousands of lesson            •	 MaMa Media ( This is
   plans; more than 3,000 links to online education                a free online community for younger children
   information; and more than 200 question archive                 geared to creative and fun activities and exchange,
   responses.                                                      separate from homework or school projects.
•	 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) (www.fns.                   •	 NASA Quest ( NASA This program administers the                     Quest is a rich resource for educators, youth, and
   nutrition assistance programs of the U.S. Depart-               space enthusiasts who are interested in meeting
   ment of Agriculture. The mission of FNS is to                   and learning about NASA people and the national

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   space program. NASA Quest allows the public to                     students about a wide variety of science top-
   share the excitement of NASA’s authentic scientif-                 ics, with links to scientific journals, museums,
   ic and engineering pursuits like flying in the Shut-               and other resources. Its Student Station includes
   tle and the International Space Station, exploring                 games and experiments to try at home and dem-
   distant planets with amazing spacecraft, and                       onstrations and information on Internet-based
   building the aircraft of the future. The site pro-                 science projects.
   vides profiles of NASA experts and stories about
                                                                    •	 ThinkQuest ( ThinkQuest
   their work days, live interactions with NASA
                                                                       is an international competition in which students
   experts, audio/video programs over the Internet,
                                                                       ages 9 to 19 and teachers are challenged to create
   lesson plans and student activities, collaborative
                                                                       the best educational Web sites. Youth team with
   activities for youth, background information and
                                                                       adult coaches to develop educational Web sites
   photo sections, a place where teachers can meet
                                                                       on topics of their choosing. These sites then are
   one another, a searchable question-and-answer
                                                                       hosted on the “library” section of the ThinkQuest
   section with thousands of previously asked ques-
                                                                       site and can be used for center program activities.
   tions, and an e-mail service in which individual
   questions get answered.                                          •	 U.S. Department of Education Publications and
                                                                       Products ( or 800–USA–LEARN).
•	 National Geographic Online
                                                                       The Education Department’s Web site provides
   ( The site contains
                                                                       access to education policies, statistics, resource
   feature articles from National Geographic maga-
                                                                       directories, and catalogues, as well as newsletters,
   zine, as well as educational features for adults and
                                                                       journals, and a wealth of accessible publications
   children. A special section, National Geographic
                                                                       for teachers, parents, and older students. Many of
   Kids, provides educational games, interesting
                                                                       these can be downloaded directly from the site or
   stories, and activities and experiments. The Edu-
                                                                       ordered for little or no cost. Some are published in
   cators page offers ideas for educators, as well as
                                                                       Spanish, as well as English. Materials include tip
   networking opportunities and resources.
                                                                       sheets and project ideas originally designed for K
•	 National Institute on Out-of-School Time                            through 12 school activities, which can be used in
   (NIOST) ( The Institute’s mission                    Neighborhood Networks centers. The Department
   is to ensure that all children, youth, and families                 publishes the Helping Your Child series (learn to
   have access to high-quality programs, activities,                   read, learn math, do homework, etc.). Archived
   and opportunities during non-school hours. It                       publications that provide useful information in-
   concentrates on research, education and training,                   clude Summer Home Learning Recipes and Think
   consultation, and program development.                              College? Me? Now? Funding Education Beyond
                                                                       High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid
•	 PBS Online ( This is the home of
                                                                       from the U.S. Department of Education explains
   comprehensive companion Web sites for more
                                                                       student financial aid programs the U.S. Depart-
   than 1,000 PBS television programs and specials,
                                                                       ment of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA)
   as well as original Web content and real-time
                                                                       office administers (
   learning adventures. Major programs have exten-
   sive supplemental materials, including audio and
   video files, on the Web site. PBS also covers a                  •	 Regional Technology in Education Consortia
   variety of subjects, ranging from news to history                   may have resources on using technology for
   and the arts to science.                                            education of different age groups and related pro-
                                                                       fessional development opportunities. The consor-
•	 Science Junction (
                                                                       tia’s national Web site ( contains
   This site contains information for teachers and
                                                                       links to the regional offices.

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•	 Federal Resources for Educational Excellence                 Meeting the Needs of
   (FREE) ( This is a subsite that
   links to scores of educational information and
                                                                Adult Literacy Students
   activities at other federal agencies. Many, but              A lack of basic reading, writing, information, and
   not all, use computers and the Web. Informa-                 computer technology skills can inhibit people from
   tion links are organized by major topics (e.g., art,         reaching their personal and career goals, making
   social studies, educational technology) and then             financial self-sufficiency almost impossible. Fortu-
   by agency. A search engine is also available. This           nately, there are tools and methods that can success-
   gateway can lead to project ideas, resources, and            fully help adults gain these basic skills.
   research for youth of all ages. The links include
   virtual tours to the National Parks and the Na-              Teaching adults is different from teaching children.
   tional Gallery of Art, information about the FBI,            The learning process must consider issues specific to
   a project on making money at the Bureau of                   adult learners, including:
   Engraving and Printing, and other items. There is
                                                                •	 Time. Family responsibilities and work obligations
   also access to many collections of art, music, and
                                                                   limit the time adults have to spend on educational
   historical documents. Older youth may find this a
                                                                   pursuits. Engaging adult learners in activities in
   useful research route. For younger children, staff
                                                                   which they can see visible gains in their skills will
   may need to help find age-appropriate pages and
                                                                   encourage continued participation.
   adapt some activities.
                                                                •	 Motivation. Adults engage in learning experiences
•	 Global SchoolNet (
                                                                   that they perceive are important, such as those
   Global SchoolNet provides information and dis-
                                                                   that will help them become better parents or find
   cussion about educational technology. It includes
                                                                   better jobs. Adult learning facilitators must de-
   a variety of articles and forums of interest to
                                                                   termine what factors motivate each adult to seek
   community-based organizations, as well as K
                                                                   learning and design a work plan with him/her
   through 12 teachers, including links to project
                                                                   around those motivations. The more learning is
   and resource Web sites.
                                                                   linked to life goals, the more willing the adult will
•	 Yahoo! Kids ( Yahoo! Kids                be to commit to long-term participation.
   is the children’s version of the Yahoo! search site.
                                                                •	 Self-esteem. Adults can feel vulnerable in un-
   It is designed to make Web searching easier for
                                                                   familiar learning environments. Some have had
   children, and helps them find sites appropriate for
                                                                   negative classroom experiences that make them
   their use. Topics include music, movies, jokes,
                                                                   especially cautious about entering a learning
   sports, TV, study zone, and science.
                                                                   setting. The facilitator can reduce an adult learn-
•	 Yucky ( Yucky                       er’s anxiety by using an informal but respectful
   describes its focus as science entertainment. It                teaching approach. Assure all adult learners that
   provides information and activities for children                asking questions is encouraged and introduce
   ages 6 through 15 about the natural world, with                 them ahead of time to the facilitators and other
   special focus on worms, bugs, and the human                     staff who will work with them.
   body. It also includes a Web page with games.
                                                                •	 Life experiences. Adults bring their life experi-
                                                                   ences into new learning situations. A success-
Appendix G includes examples of successful youth
                                                                   ful facilitator will capitalize on this experience,
education programs being conducted at Neighbor-
                                                                   helping adults recognize what they already know
hood Networks centers across the nation.
                                                                   or do well and connecting those skills to the ones
                                                                   they will learn. This will help adult learners

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   integrate and remember new skills and ideas. For                 Hosting special community events is another way of
   example, when teaching adult learners how to use                 attracting potential literacy participants to the center.
   a word processor, be sure to ask them what they                  For example, if the center invites a representative
   know about the typewriter keyboard. Extend that                  from a local daycare facility to discuss childcare
   knowledge by showing them several new func-                      issues, give an informal presentation about the cen-
   tions on the computer keyboard. Likewise, when                   ter and its adult literacy programs at the end of the
   discussing a database, ask the learners how they                 discussion and invite the audience to tour the center
   keep their own addresses organized. If they say                  and “test” the computers.
   they frequently lose addresses, discuss creating a
   database as a solution. Remember to talk about                   Developing a Literacy Program
   a database all adults recognize: the telephone
                                                                    It is important to assure adult students that any in-
                                                                    formation regarding their reading and writing levels
•	 Practice. Adults need time to practice their new                 will be kept confidential, that they will still be able to
   skills. Creating an environment that supports                    use the computer technology successfully, and that
   learning includes respecting a learner’s need to                 the facilitator will work with them to set up a com-
   move at his/her own pace. Some adults may need                   fortable program that meets their special needs and
   to practice more than others to gain proficiency                 goals and be available to respond to their questions.
   before moving on to the next skill.
•	 Involvement. Adults direct their energies toward                 Assess Students’ Ability
   the things that are most important to them. There-               Once students are put at ease, the next step is to
   fore, their involvement may fluctuate. Sometimes,                assess their skill level. An informal assessment will
   they may not seem interested or involved in an                   help the facilitator develop a work plan and a start-
   activity that is important to someone else. Do not               ing point for each adult student. The assessment
   force them. The facilitator’s responsibility is to               should be done in a one-on-one interview, asking
   help adults learn what is important to them.                     questions to identify the student’s reading and
•	 Confidentiality. This is essential in forging a                  writing level, goals and needs, interests, and skills.
   respectful relationship with adults who need to
   work on their reading and writing skills. Adult                  A skills checklist is a useful tool for assessing reading
   learners must know that staff will respect their                 and writing levels. Reading and writing skills check-
   need for privacy.                                                lists (Appendix H) are designed to determine appro-
                                                                    priate levels based on an informal discussion. The
                                                                    facilitator, however, can vary the questions depend-
Engaging Adults in Literacy Programs
                                                                    ing on the student. In any event, the questioning
Adults may need special assurances to participate in                should not be lengthy or overwhelming.
a center literacy program. They may perceive their
lack of basic skills as an insurmountable obstacle to               During the discussion, the facilitator should deter-
using technology and may be hesitant to enter an                    mine if the adult has vision problems. If so, a larger
environment that is almost certain to reveal their                  font size can make a big difference in their learning
deficiencies. Using community volunteers who are                    experience. In fact, adjusting the font size may be the
trusted and respected to recruit potential literacy                 first feature instructors should teach adult learners.
program participants can help reduce adult students’                It will reinforce the claim that technology is a
anxiety. In addition, these volunteers can act as                   wonderful tool that will make their learning easier
liaisons between students and center staff, helping                 and fun.
to identify problems and encourage learning.

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Allow for time at the end of the assessment to give            The work plan should offer adults a routine with
prospective participants a brief overview of the               which they can become familiar and thus take charge
center’s technology and a tour of the facility. More-          of their own learning. In addition, it should develop
over, give them a chance to type their name and                concrete milestones or short-term goals so learners
address using a word processor and print it out. This          can track their accomplishments.
last important step will show learners that they can
use computers successfully even without keyboard-              The first milestones may include learning how to
ing skills.                                                    open and close programs, save and print documents,
                                                               or indent paragraphs when writing a letter. When
Develop a Work Plan                                            goals are broken down this way, adults can experi-
                                                               ence achievements in almost every lesson.
After completing the informal assessment, the facili-
tator and adult learners can design meaningful work            Monitor as much of the hands-on activity as possible,
plans together that reflect their individual goals and         invite questions, and make suggestions. These ac-
needs and make the best use of their time. The skills          tions create opportunities to steer the adults toward
checklist in Appendix H also suggests activities to            new levels of understanding. Prompts can lead adult
begin each reading and writing level. Work plans will          learners to discover a relevant answer or solution
vary among centers and individuals.                            to their work, raising their confidence levels. Some
                                                               adults may feel self-conscious if their writing is vis-
For example, a one-hour work plan for beginning                ible to others. Seat these students at computers with
readers might include:                                         monitors that face a wall or are hidden from the
•	 Fifteen minutes devoted to developing mouse                 direct view of others.
   skills using a game such as solitaire.
•	 Forty-five minutes devoted to typing and finishing          Some Tools of the Trade
   a language experience story (see sidebar).                  When it comes to helping adult learners develop and
                                                               enhance their reading and writing skills, facilitators
A 90-minute work plan for an adult learner at a                and program planners have an abundance of tools at
higher basic reading level might contain:                      their fingertips, including:
•	 Forty-five minutes using a word-processed writing           •	 The keyboard. Although adult learners do not
   sample to copy and paste text and pictures into a              require keyboarding skills to compose text, many
   desktop publishing program that allows users to                adults will want to learn how to type or improve
   illustrate the stories they write.                             their typing skills because such skills are market-
•	 Fifteen minutes spent practicing typing to increase            able. Learning the keyboard can be a significant
   speed and productivity. Adults will value this                 accomplishment. If an adult student expresses an
   practice time because tracking their speed offers              interest in learning or enhancing his/her skills, be
   a visible measure of improvement.                              sure to build practice time on a typing program
                                                                  into the adult learner’s work plan from the start.
•	 Thirty minutes spent playing a computer game for
   relaxation while developing mouse or problem-               •	 Word processor. Each adult’s work plan should
   solving skills, using a desktop publishing program             include working with a word processor. Because
   to make a birthday card, adding a new name and                 of its similarity to the typewriter, most adult
   address to a database, or participating in a center            learner programs begin with having students learn
   discussion on how children and youth can use the               this tool because it is less intimidating for stu-
   Internet safely.                                               dents to make the transition from the typewriter
                                                                  to the word processor. As adult learners use the

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   word processor, be sure to instill the terminology                          features. Facilitators and center staff may want to
   into the lesson plan. Instead of saying “Click up                           select a less complex program, such as a home
   here,” your instructions might be to “Click on that                         office suite. This all-in-one productivity software
   dialog box” or “Find it on the toolbar.” By doing                           is easier to learn because the word processor,
   this, adults become familiar with the terminology                           database, spreadsheet, and drawing tool share
   they will need to use in office settings.                                   the same simple commands and procedures, and
                                                                               menu and toolbars are less cluttered and provide
•	 Productivity tools. Productivity tools, such as
                                                                               fewer options. These programs offer the same
   desktop publishing, spreadsheet, database, and
                                                                               basic functions and are organized in the same
   multimedia software that is used in combina-
                                                                               fashion as the more popular, high-powered office
   tion with a word processor, play a vital role in
                                                                               software. Adult students can begin with the more
   day-to-day office activities. Some tools, however,
                                                                               simple programs and then transfer to the more
   are easier to use than others. For example, office
                                                                               complex office tools as their skills and confidence
   software such as Microsoft Word can overwhelm
                                                                               levels increase. Resources for helping adult
   the new reader with all of its drop-down lists and

                                         Creating a Language Experience Story
    Facilitators can help adult students create a language experience story by following the steps below:

    •	 Take time to learn what interests the student . Language experiences can be launched from any discussion
       about goals, concerns, family stories, or news events .
    •	 Have a brief discussion in which the adult learner does most of the talking, then have the student
       summarize the discussion .

    •	 Using an easy-to-read font, type the summary using the student’s exact words and language patterns .

    •	 After selecting and enlarging the font size for easy reading, point to each word while reading the text .
       Then, let the student practice reading the text until he/she can read it without assistance .
    •	 Encourage adult students to read for meaning . If they find it difficult to read a certain word, encourage them
       to read ahead to the end of the sentence and then go back and try to identify the word .

    •	 Ask the student to select one or two words to remember from the text . Using the word processor’s select
       and underline functions, highlight these words .

    •	 If several adults are working together, engage them in an activity in which they must help each other and
       then copy the text onto their own disks for further reference .

    •	 Once they have saved the text on their own disks, encourage them to reread it . Have them add sentences to
       the text or use the selected vocabulary words in new sentences .

    •	 Remember, always use the adult student’s exact words . Spell them correctly, but do not change the words
       or their order .

    Source: Adapted from an updated version of The Language Experience Approach: A Tool for Reading Instruction by Karen Griswold,
    Literacy Assistance Center, New York .

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  students use productivity tools can be found on                 tions. Ask adult students to find a sound clip,
  the Web. Create a bibliography that lists publica-              picture, or film clip of an important event to listen
  tions containing concrete activities for teaching               to, look at, or watch, and then encourage them to
  specific computer skills.                                       write a description. For example, ask learners to
                                                                  write down a topic of interest, such as gardening.
•	 Multimedia educational software. Educational
                                                                  Show them how to find the index text box in the
   software continues to improve. CD-ROM programs
                                                                  encyclopedia program and let them type in the
   that combine sound, graphics, and animation to
                                                                  topic themselves. Ask them to find and listen to a
   create a stimulating multimedia learning experi-
                                                                  speech or article using the CD-ROM audio pro-
   ence allow adults to practice at their own rate to
                                                                  gram and then write about their experience. An
   achieve proficiency.
                                                                  atlas program can also be very useful. Most atlas
  When choosing packaged software, consider                       programs offer charts, graphs, and demographics.
  how much CD-ROM technology can do to make                       Several adults working together on a simple proj-
  learning more enjoyable. Avoid software that is no              ect can easily access this information, comparing
  more than a workbook on a screen. For example,                  populations or literacy rates on a spreadsheet. In
  English as a Second Language (ESL) software                     so doing, they begin to learn about alphabetizing
  should offer multimedia learning aids that include              information, reading information in charts, and
  video dialogues, graphic illustrations of common                the difference between political and topographical
  words, phrases and cultural icons, or buttons that              maps. In addition, they can learn how to use the
  provide native pronunciations of core sounds.                   scroll bar, pop-up menus, and dialog boxes.
  The content should be grouped in small segments
                                                                  Before a program is chosen, make sure adult
  with different vocabulary and pronunciation
                                                                  learners preview and evaluate it along with center
                                                                  decisionmakers. Examine its interactivity. Does
  With the latest ESL software, the user can listen               it offer learners opportunities to practice and get
  to native speakers pronouncing words in dialogue                feedback? Is it fun and absorbing? Note how the
  scripts. Other features include recording options               information is organized. It should be easy for
  so learners can compare their diction to the teach-             learners to navigate without help—especially to
  ing software and speech recognition technology                  move backward and forward through the program
  that evaluates responses and provides feedback.                 and to exit. Check the pop-up menus and click
  When previewing software, check to see if the                   on the icons to make sure they work. Packaged
  software adjusts to the user’s skill level, provides            educational software should never be used to the
  flexible options for users to work at their own                 exclusion of productivity tools and the Internet.
  pace, and allows learners to easily check their
                                                               •	 Games and adventure software. Many new adult
                                                                  learners have the preconceived idea that learning
  Adults with some reading skills can use tools such              is difficult. They need to discover that learning
  as multimedia encyclopedias. These programs can                 can be fun. Adults can develop problem-solving
  stimulate the imagination and help these adults                 and thinking skills while playing games. For ex-
  develop basic information finding and research                  ample, solitaire offers a great way for new com-
  skills. They also will help adults learn how to                 puter users to develop mouse skills. Most adults
  navigate in a nonlinear electronic environment.                 will readily recognize this game. Spending time
  This important skill will be especially useful when             during those first sessions learning how to use
  they start using the Internet. Try to show learners             the computer mouse while playing this game will
  the possibilities for interactivity without focusing            provide the adult learner with the confidence to
  on the text. For example, CD-ROM encyclopedias                  tackle the next task.
  offer photographs, sounds, film clips, and anima-

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Combining Methods and                                               •	 Identifying topics of interest. Adult learners
                                                                       should write about topics that are meaningful and
Technology to Develop Skills                                           interesting to them, such as family or personal
Selecting the appropriate methods and technology                       goals. The facilitator can help them identify topics
will help students gain confidence, find their own                     of interests through brief discussions about their
learning approaches, and become more self-reliant.                     personal goals, their children, and other family
As students become more confident using technology,                    members. If they are immigrants, the facilitator
they will require less assistance from the facilitator                 might inspire them by asking why they chose to
and center staff.                                                      immigrate to the United States or what their life
                                                                       was like in their native country.
Some methods and technology that will help
students develop their reading and writing skills                   •	 Creating group projects. Adults can enhance
include:                                                               their learning experience and develop teamwork
                                                                       skills by participating in a joint project. In the
•	 Using a word processor. Begin by introducing                        process, they can develop their reading, writing,
   adult learners to the function keys that they will                  information, and technology skills. For example,
   need, such as the Enter/Return, Shift, and Back-                    adults can create and publish their own antholo-
   space keys, as well as the space bar. Ensure that                   gies around popular themes, including their fami-
   they know where to locate certain punctuation                       lies and autobiographical narratives. Recipe books
   marks, such as the period and question mark,                        or neighborhood guides are also fun to write.
   and briefly explain the word-wrap feature so they                   Compiling a database of various books for the
   do not use the Enter key at the end of each line.                   home, videos to watch, family TV programs; and
   Initially teach skills such as starting a new docu-                 designing holiday cards or educational brochures
   ment, saving and printing a document, opening                       are useful projects.
   a document, and opening/closing an application.
   This also encourages new readers to recognize                    •	 Using the Internet. Although the Web is a very
   words such as file, save, print, print preview, edit,               print-driven medium, it can be made manageable
   cut, copy, paste, insert, and format. As they learn                 for people with weak reading skills. Try to find In-
   to write, they are also reading. For this reason,                   ternet sites that offer audio, photographs, or maps
   you may want to teach them to find and click on                     so that learners are not overwhelmed with print.
   these words in the menu before you show them                        Adults have a good incentive for learning how to
   the shortcuts on the tool bar.                                      use the Internet—their children. Focusing lessons
                                                                       around issues of parenting and monitoring use of
•	 Writing. Explain to adult learners that writing is                  the Internet will be of high value for adults. Show
   a process, typically beginning with brainstorming                   adults how to keep track of the Web sites their
   ideas, followed by focusing those ideas and                         children visit, and help them discover ways to dis-
   developing an introductory statement and sup-                       cuss with their children what they are learning on
   porting points, and finally creating a first draft,                 the Internet. E-mail and “e-pals”—an online tool
   revising and editing, and proofreading the final                    similar to the pre-digital concept of pen pals—are
   copy. Remind them that everyone, not just adult                     great ways for adults to develop their writing
   new readers, struggles with evolving texts. How-                    skills into a vital communication tool.
   ever, with features such as the Backspace key, cut
   and paste, spell check, and track changes, adult
   learners can learn ways to facilitate the writing
                                                                    Resources for Adult Literacy Learners
   process by deleting unwanted text, moving text                   When it comes to finding resources to use in devel-
   around without tedious rewriting or retyping,                    oping an adult literacy program, there is no short-
   identifying and correcting spelling errors, and                  age. There are various resource lists, Web sites, and
   comparing versions of their drafts.

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organizations that can offer Neighborhood Networks                online searchable database; and Partnership for
centers the resources and information they need to                Reading, a collaborative effort among NIFL, the
set up their literacy program.                                    U.S. Department of Education, and the National
                                                                  Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Resource Lists
                                                               •	 System for Adult Basic Education Support
The Literacy List at            (SABES) ( is a Massachusetts-
provides a comprehensive, updated list of adult                   based training and technical assistance initiative
literacy, ESL, and family literacy Web sites.                     for ABE practitioners and programs. Its Web site
                                                                  offers useful information and links to other impor-
Organizations                                                     tant educational resources.
A range of national and regional agencies offer adult          •	 International Society for Technology in
literacy resources at their Web sites and links to                Education ( offers lists of current
other useful sites. These include the following:                  Web sites, books, and periodicals that relate to
                                                                  educational technology, including topics such as
•	 Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) (www.
                                                                  curriculum development, assessment, funding, helps adults gain basic
                                                                  and professional development.
   reading, writing, and math skills. ALMA creates
   innovative, educationally sound, and entertaining
                                                               Curriculum, Projects, and Lesson Plans
   television-based teaching materials and cultivates
   community networks to support ALMA learners.                The following resources offer support for developing
                                                               curriculum, projects, and lesson plans:
• and National Center on Adult
   Literacy ( offers various            •	 Public Broadcasting Service’s LiteracyLink
   literacy resources that can be accessed by coun-               ( is funded by the U.S.
   try/region, topic/theme, or by doing a site search.            Department of Education Star Schools Project.
                                                                  LiteracyLink combines instructional video, In-
•	 National Center for Family Literacy
                                                                  ternet, and print materials to help adult learners
   ( is a nonprofit organization
                                                                  advance their General Educational Development
   supporting family literacy across America through
                                                                  (GED) and workplace skills. The Web site offers
   programming, training, research, and information
                                                                  professional training and development resources.
                                                               •	 Literacy Assistance Center ( is
•	 National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) (www.
                                                                  a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting has a goal of ensuring that all Americans
                                                                  and promoting the expansion of quality literacy
   have access to services that can help them gain
                                                                  services in New York. It provides Web-based
   the basic literacy skills necessary to succeed.
                                                                  lesson plans and curriculums that use various
   Activities include offering LINCS, an Internet
                                                                  teaching techniques.
   gateway to national and international literary
   resources; improving services to adults with
                                                               Publications and Books
   learning disabilities through Bridges to Practice,
   a multi-volume, research-based guide; promoting             The following publications and books are useful
   adult literacy system reform through Equipped for           resources for developing and operating an adult
   the Future, a long-term initiative that developed           literacy program:
   content standards to ensure that every adult can
                                                               •	 Learning and Leading with Technology, published
   gain the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill
                                                                  by the International Society for Technology in
   responsibilities as workers, parents, and citizens;
                                                                  Education, features articles by educators and
   America’s Literacy Directory, an easy-to-use
                                                                  for educators, including classroom teachers, lab

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   teachers, technology coordinators, and teacher                   available transportation, education, healthcare, and
   educators. It emphasizes practical ideas about                   childcare choices. Neighborhood Networks centers
   technology and how to use technology in K                        located in rural communities can help alleviate these
   through 12 curriculums, especially when it can                   problems by identifying needs and providing services
   make a difference in helping students develop,                   specific to rural residents’ situation.
   practice, or play with difficult concepts or creative
   processes.                                                       Providing Access to Healthcare
•	 Surfing for Substance: A Professional Develop-                   Small populations in rural areas have difficulty
   ment Guide to Integrating the World Wide Web                     supporting hospitals and retaining qualified doctors,
   Into Adult Literacy Instruction by Emily Hacker                  which limits residents’ access to healthcare. Lack of
   is an easy-to-use book packed with ideas to help                 resources and transportation further compound the
   teachers and facilitators learn how to construct                 problem. By providing health services at Neighbor-
   meaningful Web-based instructional activities. It                hood Networks centers, including health educa-
   was developed by the Literacy Assistance Center                  tion, healthy living courses, and blood pressure and
   with support from NetTech. To request a copy, call               cholesterol screenings, centers can contribute to the
   (212) 803–3300 or visit their Web site at http://                well-being of rural communities. Potential partners to download a copy.                include local hospitals, doctors, health departments,
                                                                    and other healthcare professionals. The U.S. Depart-
Educational Software: Information and                               ment of Health and Human Services, Office of
Publishers                                                          Rural Health Policy (
New educational software and Web sites are con-                     and the Rural Information Center Health Services
stantly being developed. Several popular computer                   ( offer more information and
magazines offer excellent reviews on the best Web                   ideas on improving rural healthcare.
sites and CD-ROM software, including:
                                                                    Developing Youth Programs
•	 The Learning Company (www.learningcompany.
   com) offers a variety of educational, gaming, and                Neighborhood Networks centers can develop the
   productivity software for Mac and PC platforms.                  potential of rural youth by providing afterschool
                                                                    tutoring and other educational programs. Activi-
                                                                    ties such as microenterprise programs (discussed in
Web Sites                                                           Section 4), which help youth apply their energies to
A comprehensive list of virtual museums is available                develop small business enterprises, offer youth an
at Click on audio                     opportunity to gather, socialize, and learn. Centers
symbols and listen to news reports at major news                    can give youth opportunities to contribute to their
network Web sites such as Cut and                      community and to others and can help connect
paste maps from into a word                        struggling teens with adult mentors for support and
processing program using the right mouse button.                    guidance. In partnership with other community or-
                                                                    ganizations, centers can open their doors to various
                                                                    community activities (such as health fairs, violence
Developing Programs for
                                                                    prevention programs, and cultural events) designed
Rural Centers                                                       to bring together parents, youth, and community
Although the gap has narrowed in recent years,                      residents. Information on establishing afterschool
Americans living in rural areas still lag slightly be-              programs and educational activities in rural areas is
hind the national average in computer and Internet                  available at ( and www.ruraledu.
access. In addition, rural residents also face challeng-            org).
es in moving to self-sufficiency because of a lack of

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Overcoming Transportation Problems                              Resources for Rural Centers
Rural residents face unique circumstances that affect           For more information about programs and resources
their ability to achieve economic self-sufficiency.             that can benefit rural communities, visit the follow-
Compared with urban and suburban settings, rural                ing Web sites:
communities often have fewer public transportation
options. As a result, individuals without reliable              Community and Rural Development Institute,
transportation may face difficulties traveling to and           Cornell University
from work, appointments, and childcare. Neighbor-     
hood Networks centers can work with local agencies
and organizations to develop and provide public                 National Rural Development Partnership
and private transportation solutions to community     
members, such as organizing a van service to help
those enrolled in workforce development training to             Rural Community Empowerment Program
reach jobs.                                           

Assisting with Childcare                                        Rural Information Center
Rural families have fewer childcare options than
those individuals living in urban and suburban
areas. Center-based care, increasingly popular among            Linking Residents to
American families, is less available to rural children.         Healthcare Resources
In many areas, small and scattered populations and
                                                                Many low-income individuals and families lack
high transportation costs make childcare centers
                                                                access to preventive and primary healthcare, often
impractical. Neighborhood Networks centers may
                                                                relying on emergency room visits in a crisis. Yet,
consider several approaches to meeting the rural
                                                                families need to maintain good health so parents can
childcare challenge:
                                                                work and children can succeed in school. Elderly or
•	 Think broadly about partners. Centers may want               disabled residents often have chronic conditions that
   to look beyond the traditional childcare communi-            require regular treatment if they are to enjoy the best
   ty. Partnerships may be possible with organizations          possible quality of life.
   working in areas such as economic development,
   transportation, and workforce development.                   Neighborhood Networks centers can help residents
                                                                obtain the health information and services they need
•	 Create a coalition of small employers. Although
                                                                in a variety of ways. These may include providing
   small employers may have limited resources to
                                                                Internet access that makes it possible for residents to
   invest in childcare individually, their pooled re-
                                                                go online to get up-to-date information about spe-
   sources can make a difference. They may be able
                                                                cific diseases, eligibility for health insurance, drug
   to help support a childcare center or expand a
                                                                discount programs, and other health matters. Cen-
   network of family providers.
                                                                ters also can distribute health information, sponsor
•	 Look to resource and referral agencies to en-                health fairs, or inform residents about government
   gage business partners. In many states, resource             health insurance programs for which they qualify.
   and referral agencies are educating and offering             In addition, in partnership with local hospitals, agen-
   services to businesses to promote family-friendly            cies, or nonprofit groups, Neighborhood Networks
   practices. See if these agencies can help identify           centers may participate in ongoing health programs
   family-friendly businesses in the community.                 or sponsor periodic health screenings, vaccinations

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for children, exercise or smoking cessation classes,              •	 Do residents have access to dental services or
and a variety of other activities.                                   other specialized care?

Identify Residents’ Needs                                         You should also talk about the causes of problems.
                                                                  Can residents afford care? Do they face transporta-
As with any program offered by a Neighborhood
                                                                  tion or language barriers? Are residents discouraged
Networks center, the first step is to identify residents’
                                                                  by the complexity of health programs? Do they know
needs. This enables you to develop and offer a pro-
                                                                  where to seek help?
gram that will provide residents with the information
and services they need. Some questions to consider
                                                                  Take notes and summarize the information in writing,
                                                                  both to better understand resident healthcare needs
•	 What health programs do residents need                         and to explain these needs to potential community
   and want?                                                      partners. Once you have identified residents’ needs,
                                                                  you can begin identifying what resources exist in the
•	 How many people might show up for a high blood
                                                                  community to help meet these needs.
   pressure or cholesterol screening, to get a flu shot,
   or to find out about new prescription discount
   programs?                                                      Identify Community Resources
                                                                  Most health-related activities involve bringing
For answers to these questions, demographic data                  resources to the center, such as public health serv-
compiled by property managers can provide a basic                 ices, government health insurance coverage, local
count of children and adults in a development, but                health facilities, and community groups. National
the best approach is to ask residents directly and                organizations and their local affiliates may provide
to talk to people who know and work with them.                    information and other assistance online or over the
To get an indication of the level of interest, place a            telephone. To identify community resources:
sign-up sheet in the center or flyers under unit doors.
                                                                  •	 Take a community survey of health resources.
If a formal survey of resident needs is planned, be
                                                                     Brainstorm with the resident service council,
sure to include questions on healthcare. When talk-
                                                                     property managers, Neighborhood Networks staff,
ing with people who work with residents, such as
                                                                     HUD Neighborhood Networks Coordinators,
property managers, leaders of resident organizations,
                                                                     community leaders, school system health workers,
center staff members, HUD Neighborhood Networks
                                                                     elected officials, and others to determine available
Coordinators, staff at local clinics or emergency
                                                                     resources. Check local phone books and online
rooms, teachers at local schools, and staff at nearby
                                                                     search engines. Make a list of resources, including
churches and religious institutions, ask:
                                                                     local hospitals and clinics; city or county health
•	 What do you see as the most significant health                    agencies; local chapters of national medical and
   problems for residents?                                           health service organizations; charities interested
•	 Roughly what proportion of eligible residents                     in health and nutrition issues; and local gyms,
   would you estimate are actually signed up for                     fitness programs, food retailers, or weight-loss
   Medicaid, Medicare, or the children’s health                      programs. These resources might be willing to
   insurance program in the state?                                   take part in a project to benefit community
•	 Do you see healthcare problems as a barrier to
   parents working or training?                                   •	 Help residents with healthcare costs. Many state
                                                                     and federal programs exist to provide health insur-
•	 Do families moving from welfare to work have                      ance to low-income people and lower the cost
   difficulties obtaining health insurance?                          of prescription drugs, especially for the elderly.
                                                                     These programs include:

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   •	 Medicaid, a federal health insurance program,            Approach potential partners with a variety of ideas,
      pays for medical assistance for certain                  solid information about community needs, and a
      individuals and families with low incomes                willingness to learn about what they could provide.
                                                               Establish a Program
   •	 Medicare, a federal health insurance program,
      pays for hospital and medical expenses for               Structure health projects or programs to respond to
      elderly people (age 65 and older) or for                 local needs and available resources by:
      people with certain disabilities or conditions           •	 Defining how the program will be organized and
      (                                         implemented, specifying the roles of resident
   •	 State Children’s Health Insurance Program                   service council members, property managers, and
      (CHIP), a set of state-operated programs,                   other in-house stakeholders.
      provides health insurance for children, up to            •	 Establishing goals with measurable outcomes
      age 19, who are not otherwise insured                       such as the number of potential partners to
      (                           approach, volunteers to involve, residents to
   •	 Head Start, a federal early childhood educa-                serve, dates for visits by diagnostic vans, and
      tion program, also provides health screenings,              progress milestones.
      evaluation, and service coordination for low-            •	 Identifying where to obtain necessary resources,
      income children (                  such as staffing, equipment, and supplies.
                                                               •	 Clearly explaining how the program will deal with
   •	 BenefitsCheckup, an online screening service                accessibility and security issues.
      operated by the National Council on Aging,
      helps people age 55 and older find out if they           •	 Establishing a mechanism to deal with
      are eligible for various programs that help with            unexpected problems.
      some costs of prescription drugs, healthcare,            •	 Following up with thank-you letters to all
      utilities, and other essential items or services            community partners after the project.
   •	 BenefitsCheckupRx, an online screening                   Market Programs to Residents
      service, helps people decide among various               To promote your health event and ensure high levels
      prescription discounts such as the Medicare-             of participation, market program offerings to residents
      approved drug card, state pharmacy programs,             through announcements in the property management
      and other prescription assistance programs               office, the Neighborhood Networks center, and places
      (            where residents visit. You may also distribute flyers to
      start.cfm?subset_id=39).                                 units by mail or by going door to door.
Market to and Develop Partners
                                                               Publicity aimed at the wider community will provide
For health-related programs, community partners can            additional avenues for reaching residents. Mail flyers
provide visits by skilled staff or mobile diagnostic           to school principals, clergy, elected officials, heads
equipment, expertise, information, volunteers, or              of local nonprofit organizations, and other commu-
donations of supplies. Neighborhood Networks                   nity leaders. Send out a press release to local radio,
centers bring to the partnership access to an under-           television, newspapers, and “shoppers” newspapers.
served community, a reliable point of contact, and a           Community partners may have media expertise or
potential space to hold health activities.                     contacts, and may be willing to share in the publicity

                                                         117                                                   July 2008
                                       s and Educational Toolkit
                a   nce Resource Guide
Technical Assist

Assess Outcomes and Revise Programs                                 The following are valuable sources of
As Needed                                                           general health information:

At the completion of a health project, prepare a                    Healthfinder®
written summary report, including:                                  National Health Information Center
•	 Project or event: Date(s), purpose of event,                     U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
   number of people served.                               

•	 Internal information: Who did what and what
                                                                    Healthfinder® Kids
   roles the resident council, Neighborhood Net-
   works center, and property manager played. Note
   names and contact information of key people.
                                                                    National Institute on Aging—Age Pages
•	 Partnership information: Names of partner orga-        
   nizations with contact information of key people.
                                                                    Aetna InteliHealth
•	 Successes: State if the project met or exceeded the
   measurable goals set.
•	 Problems: Note problems that emerged and what                    Dr. Koop
   challenges should be considered for future events.     

Consider how to share evaluation findings with                      WebMD
residents, staff members, partners, and other             
stakeholders. To help assess and track their health
programs, centers can use HUD’s START. Using                        For information on specific diseases, visit the
this online tool, Neighborhood Networks centers                     following Web sites:
can complete annual assessments of their health
programs and other activities based on the center’s                 Alzheimer’s Association
business plan projections. A large health program         
may call for a formal evaluation. Local colleges may
supply student volunteers to plan and carry out an                  Arthritis Foundation
evaluation under faculty supervision.                     

Online Resources                                                    American Cancer Society
Using the Internet, residents can learn about dis-
eases and how they are treated, clinical trials for new
                                                                    American Heart Association
medicines and treatments, health insurance benefits,
and alternative therapies. Residents can also join
online support groups for families and contact local
                                                                    American Lung Association
affiliates and support groups. Note: Exercise caution
when using the Internet to research health options,
gather information, or take part in online forums.
                                                                    American Diabetes Association
Not all information is reliable. Healthcare decisions
should be made in consultation and conjunction with
a physician.
                                                                    National Institute of Mental Health

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For information on medical research, visit:
                                                               Successful Health Programs at
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                                                              Neighborhood Networks Centers

                                                        Houston Neighborhood Networks, Inc ., a
Mayo Clinic                                             nonprofit consortium of Houston centers, devel-
                                                        oped a partnership with Preventive Healthcare
                                                        Outreach, Inc ., and St . Joseph’s Hospital in 2003
National Institutes of Health
                                                        to provide onsite comprehensive medical
                                                        services to families and senior citizens at five
                                                        Neighborhood Networks centers . In 2004,
                                                        Preventive Healthcare Outreach continued to
                                                        provide onsite health fairs offering preventive
                                                        healthcare services to residents through
                                                        Neighborhood Networks centers and at other
                                                        HUD-subsidized multifamily complexes .

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