History of CALTA21

CALTA21 was founded as an intervention model initiative to build professional capacity to empower adult immigrant English language learners (ELLs). The intent of this initiative, led by Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), was to build the capacity of museum-community college partnerships, and to empower adult immigrant English language learners (ELL) while strengthening their literacy and critical thinking skills through visual literacy, while simultaneously assisting them in enriching their social and cultural capital.

The foundations of CALTA21 are the Professional Development Institute and the curriculum “Identity, Portraiture and Photography.” Evaluationdemonstrates that participating ELLs have improved their language skills and taken ownership of museum experiences in the curriculum’s 30-hour process of transformative learning, which culminates in students curating successful museum visits for families and friends. Through CALTA21, literacy instructors have the opportunity to gain new understanding of the value of authentic, art-based discussions and strengthen teaching practices when hearing students’ immigrant narratives in spaces of public value. CALTA21 encourages museum educators and docents to embrace the philosophy of shared meaning-making. It builds communities of global learning and civic engagement, while strengthening the immigrant voice and helping museums to maintain their relevance and cultural roles.

During the grant period (2011-2014), CALTA21’s development and implementation process included:

  1. A continual cycle of testing, revision and redesign of the two project cornerstones: our professional development institute and the curriculum
  2. The creation of a manual to serve as resource guide for museums and community college literacy programs when launching a partnership
  3. The design and implementation of a dissemination plan that focuses on national implementation opportunities and includes this website where all materials will be available free of charge
  4. A culminating symposium will gather participants to share their experiences and evaluators to share their findings for future replication of the model

IMLS selected CALTA21 and nine other projects for funding through its National Leadership Grant program. The projects selected for funding were identified through a peer-review process, with reviewers seeking projects that would have a national impact in the museum field and serve as models to museums across the nation. A complete list of projects funded through this program can be found at www.imls.gov.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

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