ncld impact fall 2016

NCLD's Impact Update – Fall 2016

We’re delighted to share an update on the exciting work we’ve been doing to support the 1 in 5 individuals nationwide with learning and attention issues over the past three months. It is because of your support and belief in our work that we are making the most significant impact in our organization’s history to improve the lives of the 60 million children and adults in the U.S. who struggle with learning and attention issues.
Read on to find out what we’ve done and what we’re looking forward to for the remainder of 2016.
NCLD’s Programs
Empowering Parents with Understood

  • September traffic to Understood reached 1.5 million monthly unique visitors, an all-time record.
  • At the end of July, Understood launched and ran its #StartSchoolStrong back-to-school campaign. One of the features of the campaign was to focus on providing parents with useful, relevant printable resources (like this IEP binder checklist) that would be especially helpful at the beginning of the year. As a result, printable resources were downloaded 52,729 times, three to four times the average for the same time period last year. The campaign also led to a record number of visitors referred by Understood’s founding partner organizations.
  • October marked the launch of our #BeUnderstood Campaign for LD, Dyslexia and ADHD Awareness month.
  • A major piece of the campaign was the launch of the new public service announcement, in partnership with the Ad Council. PrintDayoNoah-600-857 The name of the PSA campaign is “Two Sides,” and the core message, “When you can see if from their side, you can be on their side.”
  • Also in October, the Understood team met representatives from every partner organization to discuss lessons learned and upcoming initiatives. This meeting led to the creation of key messages for the field as well as the beginning of a plan for long-term impact as part of the MacArthur 100 & Change grant-proposal process.

Looking Ahead

  • Grassroots mobilization work will begin in Iowa, Colorado and Georgia to raise awareness among parents and offer support for students with learning and attention issues.

Learning Resources and Research

  • We convened the annual meeting of NCLD’s Professional Advisory Board, where we welcomed incoming members:
    • Manju Banerjee, Ph.D.
    • Carl Cohn, Ph.D.
    • Karla Estrada, Ph.D.
    • Fumiko Hoeft, M.D., Ph.D.
    • Bambi Lockman, LL.D.
    • Erik von Hahn, M.D.
  • Members of the PAB enthusiastically embraced NCLD’s 2.0 strategic planning. They were eager to engage with the NCLD team in support of, exciting new opportunities for educators, our work in personalized learning, claudia-sheldon-credit and in policy and advocacy efforts that will inform how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is rolled out in states across the country.
  • Claudia Koochek, head of Westmark School in Encino, CA received NCLD’s Bill Ellis Award at the annual conference of the International Dyslexia Association on Oct. 28 in Orlando.

Looking Ahead

  • NCLD’s award programs are in full swing.
    • Public and private school nominations for NCLD’s Rozelle Award are being reviewed by the NCLD team, with the presentation of each award to be scheduled in early 2017.
    • We’re accepting online applications for our Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas scholarships. So far, we have received more than 400 applications, and team members, interns, members of the Board of Directors are already immersed in reviewing them. We will honor the winners at our annual benefit on March 6, 2017.

Transforming Schools

  • Our Schools That Work project continues to grow and support school districts in Massachusetts.
  • We completed the final year of the project in Barnstable Public Schools as well as the first two school years with Mashpee Public Schools.
  • We held our first joint MTSS convening with the Cape Cod Collaborative on July 19. The event brought together many of the superintendents and MTSS school teams for a day of professional development and planning focused on building and sustaining MTSS across the cape and islands over the next academic year.

Looking Ahead

  • For the 2017–2018 school year we’ll kick-off the second year of the Schools That Work project with the Mashpee Public Schools adding a focus on behavior and Explicit Instruction in addition to district, school and principal support.

Public Policy and Advocacy

  • In early August, NCLD convened local experts in New Hampshire 11/Screen-Shot-2016-11-08-at-1.10.53-PM to discuss how to meet the needs of students with disabilities in personalized learning systems.
  • We spoke to other groups like the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Big Picture Learning about how personalized learning systems can meet the needs of all students.
  • Check out our guest post for the National PTA’s blog and our article for the National Association of State Boards of Education. Ace Parsi and Meghan Casey detail how personalized learning strategies can work for students with disabilities.
  • We also co-led workshops with partner organizations in Baltimore and Houston designed to empower parents to participate in the development of their state’s ESSA plan.
  • NCLD continued to engage parents on ESSA implementation at the state level via an Understood expert chat and Twitter chat.
  • We shared our findings on personalized learning with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).

Looking Ahead

  • Later this month NCLD will be holding our second state convening on personalized learning in Denver.
  • Following our informative roundtable discussion last April with Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and college students with learning and attention issues, NCLD and the American Council on Education will co-lead a committee of higher education and disability groups to develop recommendations for colleges and universities on how they can best work with and serve students with disabilities.
  • This fall, NCLD will convene stakeholders in Washington D.C. to discuss promoting family and school partnerships for children with specific learning disabilities. 

Impact Update – Winter 2015

The mission of NCLD is to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 individuals nationwide with learning and attention issues. Below are highlights of our accomplishments in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Empowering Parents

  • We’ve expanded the reach of Understood through a national advertising campaign:
    • The Ad Council has helped secure donated placement of ads across the country on TV, radio and print media—including full-page ads in the New York Times!
    • We also secured several promotional video billboards in the middle of Times Square to help share this incredible resource to more parents of kids with learning and attention issues.
  • Enhanced connectivity on A new section called Parents Like Me gives parents the opportunity to trade tips and advice with other parents who share their interests and concerns.
  • The redesigned makes it even easier to find information about all of NCLD’s programs, the latest reports and studies, scholarship opportunities and more!

Advocating for Equal Rights and Opportunities

  • NCLD secured $2.5 million in Congress’s 2015 budget to be used for a National Technical Assistance Center. This money will fund an online resource center that will provide information to students with disabilities and their families to assist with the transition to higher education.
  • We received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study and make recommendations on how systems of personalized learning best serve and incorporate students with disabilities.

Transforming Our Public Schools for All Students

  • We launched the RTI-based SLD Identification Toolkit on The Toolkit was developed in partnership with the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the Council of Administrators of Special Education. It offers evidence-based practice for identifying students as eligible for special education in the Specific Learning Disabilities category using Response to Intervention as the foundation.

Ensuring Successful Futures for Young People

  • NCLD’s Pete & Carrie Rozelle Award is our annual honor given to a public and a private school that demonstrate excellence in serving all students, including those with learning and attention issues. The 2014 winners were P.S. 200 Benson Elementary School (Brooklyn, NY) and Eagle Hill School (Greenwich, CT).
  • We completed the research phase of our Student Voices project surveying more than 1,200 young adults to gain a first-hand perspective about their journey and discover how we can support their needs as they transition from high school to college or the workplace. Look for the results on

Looking Ahead
We’re committed to providing the resources and services that our community needs. Here are some of our exciting upcoming programs and goals for the first quarter of 2015.
Providing More Resources for Parents

  • We’re expanding the reach of the Understood campaign beyond traditional media (TV, print, radio) to be shown in movie theatres and lobbies across the country.
  • We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Understood, ABC / Disney and First Book. Understood will partner on the Magic of Storytelling campaign to help ensure that all children have access to books and parents have the resources to foster a passion for reading with their kids.

Increasing our Advocacy Impact

  • We’ll release recommendations that we’ve developed jointly with the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) for states that have third grade reading laws. Using Understood as a platform we’ll share our recommendations in the form of a “best practices” document for policymakers and an infographic for parents.

Providing Educators With Tools for Success

  • We’ll continue our partnerships with the Barnstable Public Schools and the Massachusetts Department of Education in Massachusetts to help fully implement a Multi-Tier System of Supports through NCLD’s Schools That Work project funded by The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. We’ll also add another school district in Massachusetts to partner with for year two of the project.

Serving Young Adults Beyond High School

  • We’re reviewing over 400 applications from high school students across the country to select the Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship Award winners for 2015. The scholarships are awarded annually to two graduating high school seniors with documented learning disabilities to support their pursuit of a four-year, two-year, or vocational post-secondary education.

RESIZE_Kaila Hatton (2014 AFT Scholar)-029

“The hardest part of my journey with LD hasn’t been the tests or even the grades. It’s been the low expectations that people have for kids who learn differently. For young kids, it’s having to constantly deal with the feeling that you’re disappointing someone because you don’t fit the mold of the ideal student…the truth is that this struggle has made me stronger. I’m ready to take on anything!”
– Kaila Hatton, 2014 Allegra Ford Thomas Scholar