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Learning Ally Volunteer Nation logo

Who We Are

The Volunteer Nation is a community of over 1,000 individuals across the world who graciously support Learning Ally’s mission. Volunteers share their talents to create human-read audiobooks and provide support in roles that help us reach the 30 million students who struggle to read. Join the Volunteer Nation in smashing the literacy divide and bring equitable education for all.

Connect with the Community!

    

 

 

 

 

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Interested in sharing your volunteer story or writing a blog post for us? We welcome your ideas! 

Email us: volunteer@learningally.org 

 

 

 

Volunteer Nation Blog

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Stay in the know with your fellow volunteers, read the latest volunteer spotlight, and learn about current events happening in the Volunteer Nation.


Changes In Our Audiobook Production

In our 75 years of existence, Learning Ally has grown and adapted our mission to serve more people in their education journey. We started with a focus on serving blind and visually impaired individuals, expanding the mission to serve people of all ages with learning differences such as dyslexia, and now we are entering the early literacy space. Your generous time and hard work over the years has helped Learning Ally grow and expand our reach to serve more students, massively impacting the literacy problem we face in the United States. 

Student using the Learning Ally Audiobook Solution on a tablet

 

In March 2021 we shared that Learning Ally was making changes to our audiobook production process for the following reasons: 

 

  • To deliver books to our students faster, 
  • To improve the overall quality of our audiobooks, and
  • To ensure we are meeting students’ needs to the best of our ability. 

 

It is important to us to keep our volunteer teams in the know, so we have outlined some majors changes that have happened so far. In addition, we will continue to provide ongoing updates in our Support Center article: Audiobook Community Updates. We encourage you to check this link regularly; we are working to keep information up to date weekly.

 

Some major changes we have made so far include:

 

  • Combined our Textbook and Literature Communities into one Audiobook Community. This combining of communities has allowed us to improve our ability to share resources more easily
  • Moved textbook projects and workflow to the Audiobook Portal, formerly known as the Literature Portal
  • Closed narrator recruitment and moved to a casting process for all future projects. Volunteers will no longer be able to audition for projects
  • Reengineered our listener role
  • Piloted several new audiobook-related volunteer roles and plan to add more

 

These changes may affect how you currently volunteer with Learning Ally. Again, we encourage you to read the Audiobook Community Updates for the most up to date information on how changes may affect your volunteering. If you would like to browse our current volunteer opportunities, head to the new Individual Volunteer Opportunities page on the Volunteer Portal. 

 

Many of the changes you will see are driven by listening to and responding to the needs of the community, that is the students and educators who use our education solutions. Overall quality and accessibility of our books is essential to student success. That said, we are making it a priority to continuously improve so we can deliver on the promise of equitable access to education for all students. 

 

In addition to changes in our production process, we’ve welcomed five new team members recently. Depending on which volunteer role you serve in, you will likely meet a few of these team members in your volunteering! Stay on the lookout for emails from these team members, as they will be leading all Audiobook Community projects. 

 

  • Producer Team: Ivuoma Hall, Danielle Quisenberry-Ruvolo, and Ian McInnes will assign all new book projects to available narrators by considering the casting (how well the narrator’s voice matches the character) and book priority (based on school and individual student requests)
  • Project Managers: Cheri Nightingale, Audrey Santos, Katherine Abraham and Naava Feingold will be managing projects from the pre-production steps through the completion of projects. They are your go-to folks for any project-related question and can help connect you to other staff as needs arise.  
  • Audiobook Quality Assurance Lead: Dan Toth will be working to improve our current Quality Assurance process behind the scenes

 

We hope this blog post helps put into perspective why Learning Ally is making such a large, organizational change in our production process. Students' needs are at the center of everything we do, and that is the reason why you are seeing so many changes right now. We appreciate your understanding as Learning Ally grows and expands to best meet the needs of all students, ultimately addressing the massive literacy problem we have in the United States. The work you do makes a difference! 

 

As we navigate these changes, it is important to us to remain completely transparent and welcome your thoughts and feedback at all times. You can share your thoughts and ask questions at any time. 
 

With gratitude, 

Maria Lelie, Volunteer Programs Coordinator


Logging Your Service Hours Just Got Easier!

The next time you log in to report your service hours you will notice a change. Starting February 2021, we implemented a small change to the dropdown menu next to Which Assignment Did You Serve In to make it easier to find your assignment. 

 

What exactly is changing? 

Each volunteer assignment will now have a number next to the text. For example, all Literature Community assignments will have the number one next to them, the Textbook Community will have a two, and so on.

 

Assignment list

How can you help us minimize errors in service tracking?

  • All volunteers should be sure their Google profile has their name (not just an email). You can update that information here.
  • All Literature volunteers should be sure to click the Discussion Group tab located in the My Projects tab after they're assigned a project. Volunteers should do this first thing when they get an assignment since that triggers adding them into a private project channel for communication. Also, be sure to use @mentions in Twist.
 

Why is it important to accurately report service hours?

  • Volunteer Recognition: We appreciate everything you do! This data helps us recognize milestones and outstanding service.
  • Program Health: We can use this data to evaluate the health of our volunteer program. This helps us see the effort that goes into audiobook production and other Learning Ally initiatives that our volunteers support. It also helps us determine how many new audiobooks we can produce, measure volunteer retention, and build recruitment plans to fill areas of need.
  • Reporting: The value of your donated service is required in our financial reporting. We also provide reports, when requested, to companies that donate to nonprofits where their employees volunteer and to foundations that are interested in our mission.

 

We recognize that there are many different assignments you must choose from when logging service hours and this in itself can be confusing. We hope this change will help you easily locate the assignment(s) you work on most often and potentially memorize its place in the list to reduce reporting errors. 

 

If you have any questions about which assignment you perform, please reach out to the staff member you work with most frequently and ask them if you’re reporting your hours correctly.