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Nonprofit Information Literacy Undertaking Welcomes Former Educator as CEO, With Plans to Broaden


Fourteen years after its founding and with a misinformation panorama many magnitudes extra dire than anybody may’ve predicted, the Information Literacy Undertaking will herald in a brand new CEO this summer season, marking a transition in management however not a change in path for the education-focused nonprofit.

On June 30, founder and CEO Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will step down, permitting Charles Salter to step into the highest spot.

Salter, who at present serves as NLP’s president and chief working officer, will deliver his background in schooling—as a instructor, a principal, a superintendent, and a nonprofit chief—to the group’s rising workers.

In 2008, when Miller began the Information Literacy Undertaking following a go to to his daughter’s sixth grade class, he thought information literacy can be an necessary ability for college kids and educators within the age of burgeoning social media and smartphones. Certainly, it could develop into much more crucial than he anticipated.

Misinformation “has truly change into one of many best—if not the best—challenges of our time,” says Miller in an interview with EdSurge reflecting on the group’s historical past and trajectory. “It underscores every little thing else: immigration, local weather change, public well being. If we are able to’t agree on what a truth is—if {the marketplace} of concepts breaks down—then how are we ever going to attain consensus to sort out the opposite nice challenges of our time? How are we ever going to bridge the digital divide—the digital abyss—if now we have totally different realities of a pandemic, of the result of an election, of a struggle in Ukraine with Russia?”

Miller added that, 14 years in the past, if somebody had instructed him that tens of thousands and thousands of People would later consider and promote “completely discredited conspiratorial considering”—and can be performing on it in ways in which influenced public well being choices and the well being of our democracy—he wouldn’t have believed it.

“In some ways, I really feel like we went from being a voice within the wilderness to a solution to a prayer, notably after the 2016 election,” he provides.

From its inception, NLP has sought to be strictly nonpartisan, aiming to show individuals how to consider the information and knowledge they devour, not what to consider it, Salter explains. The group has finished that via a weekly e mail publication known as the Sift, an internet studying platform known as Checkology, and different sources and applications which have collectively reached an estimated 2 million college students within the final yr and greater than 50,000 educators in all 50 states and 120 nations.

Quite a few main occasions in recent times, together with the 2016 presidential election within the U.S., have underscored the necessity for higher information literacy—the COVID-19 pandemic and the riots on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, chief amongst them. Throughout that point, the Information Literacy Undertaking has gone from a distinct segment nonprofit to a pacesetter in a nationwide effort to create a extra discerning public, beginning with its younger individuals and educators.

Now, as disinformation and misinformation proceed to distort information and manipulate fact—the newest instance being as large-scale as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—NLP has gathered some momentum.

In its first 14 years, the group raised greater than $35 million, from a mix of foundations, firms, and main and small donors. It has additionally grown to make use of 30 workers. In its subsequent 4 years, NLP goals to lift $36 million and double in measurement to 60 workers. This summer season alone, NLP hopes to rent for and fill 15 new positions.

A part of that growth, which might be led by Salter, contains an effort to succeed in not solely lecturers and learners however most of the people as nicely.

“We’re doing that via exponential progress of the group and never stealing something from schooling,” Salter explains. “We’re merely constructing a brand new half.”

As NLP evolves, it should proceed its work in schooling and construct out extra programming on that aspect. One effort is to assist extra states undertake media literacy necessities, as Texas and Illinois have finished. Others embody plans to develop a graduate-level course that trains educators to show information literacy and a nationwide information literacy convention for educators and college students.

“We’re going to take our observe to the following stage with issues we haven’t finished—neighborhood constructing, coaching, certification,” Salter says.

On most of the people aspect, the group plans to create a platform that anybody can go to to examine information on main points and present occasions and to study extra about find out how to consider information and discern credible from unbelievable info.

“Our objective now could be to show the mission right into a nationwide motion,” Miller says. “We wish to change the way in which individuals share and devour info so there’s a a lot higher sense of private accountability. We wish to change the tradition, the way in which we’ve seen with smoking and drunk driving and littering. That may be a key truth and key driver within the new plan for our group.”

As Salter takes the helm this summer season, Miller will keep on with the title of founder and serve full time for a further yr, primarily working to fundraise for NLP and advise Salter. He’ll stay on the board indefinitely, he says.

Salter, for his half, says that though he’ll usher in a interval of dramatic progress and growth for NLP, the workers and common public can count on stability and continuity underneath his management.

“My type of administration and strategic planning and what I prioritize has slowly change into the group’s method. I don’t suppose of us will see a lot of a distinction,” he says. “There’s nothing I’m sitting on that’s going to transform, no drastic tradition shift or perhaps a shift in our priorities, as a result of these have melded collectively within the final 4 years.”

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