Project Consultant, United for Brownsville

United for Brownsville (UB)

UB is a collective impact and participatory planning initiative that supports local families and social service providers in an effort to reinvent the early childhood landscape in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Our specific goals are to improve the language and social-emotional outcomes of infants and toddlers through collaborative actions that redefine relationships and fill-in service gaps. Books for Brownsville is one action being designed and planned by these local stakeholders to meet UB’s goals.

Books for Brownsville Project Consultant Role

UB is seeking a Project Consultant to lead the curriculum writing and training portions of the Books for Brownsville project. The ideal candidate will be pursuing or have attained a graduate degree in education and will have experience in early childhood education and literacy, community engagement, curriculum development, and adult learning (e.g. training the trainers, leading professional development, or training teachers). 
The qualities needed to succeed in this role include being able to work independently and collaboratively, to synthesize information from diverse sources and be able to identify commonalities between them, and to quickly and thoughtfully grasp UB’s mission, methods, and goals, and envision a place for Books for Brownsville within them.
The Project Consultant will receive extensive support from UB’s full-time Co-Directors and Project Manager to facilitate their work and with organizing, co-planning, and managing logistics for the roundtables and training sessions described below. The Project Consultant will also have access to UB’s printer/scanner/copier and other office supplies. UB will provide supplies, materials, and refreshments for the roundtables and trainings. The project consultant may work remotely or from UB’s offices in Brownsville, although in-person attendance is required for roundtables and training sessions. 
The Project Consultant role is expected to extend throughout 2019 based on the deliverables and timelines outlined in the Project Description section of this document. There will be potential to continue the role into 2020 and beyond to train additional cohorts, continue community of practice meetings, and improve the curriculum. 

Project Description

Inspired by the practices of Reach Out and Read and other early childhood literacy initiatives, UB seeks to create a strength-based, locally-responsive training to help service providers in Brownsville better support families around pre-literacy and language development of infants and toddlers (0-3 years old). The training will be bolstered through regular convenings of providers trained in the curriculum, thus supporting a community of practice that will help Books for Brownsville grow, adapt, and remain responsive to the community. The anticipated steps and desired timeline for this project follow, and compensation will be provided upon receipt of each of the deliverables outlined below:
Deliverable 1: Produce a detailed description of findings from two Research Roundtables (Jan-Mar of 2019) [$800-1000]
  • Family Roundtable (2-3 hours)
    • UB backbone staff will convene and facilitate a group of 7-9 local mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers to: a) better understand families’ definitions of and practices around pre-literacy, and b) surface the strategies that service providers can follow to best support families’ methods of encouraging young children’s literacy development. 
    • The consultant will attend this meeting as a participant/observer, taking notes on the families’ comments and collaborating as needed in the facilitation.
  • Professional Roundtable (2-3 hours)
    • UB backbone staff will convene and facilitate a balanced group of 7-9 participants from the following two groups: a) service providers in Brownsville who are engaged in early childhood literacy work and b) experts in early childhood literacy. This roundtable will use insights from the family roundtable to elicit key strategies service providers can follow to best support families’ literacy practices. 
    • The consultant will attend this meeting as a participant/observer, taking notes on the providers’ comments and collaborating as needed in the facilitation.
  • Findings: Submit to UB staff a report of findings from the Research Roundtables, answering the following questions:
    • What early literacy tactics work well for Brownsville families with infants and toddlers (0-3 years old) that providers should be aware of?
    • What are the key areas related to pre-literacy and literacy in which families say they could use more support from the service providers in their lives?
    • How can local service providers adjust their approaches to working with families around literacy and pre-literacy given the feedback from local families? What additional information or supports do local service providers need to do this?
    • What are some key pedagogy and practices that early childhood literacy experts recommend so that service providers can be trained to better support local families? What connections can be drawn between these strategies and early literacy practices Brownsville families find success with?
Deliverable 2: First Curriculum Draft (Mar-May 2019) [$800-1000]
The consultant will modify an existing provider-training curriculum from one of UB’s partners (e.g. Scholastic Education, New York Public Library, etc.) or create a new 1-2 hour training for local social service providers. Specific to Books for Brownsville, this training will be strength-based and culturally-informed and will detail strategies, books, and tools that local social service providers can use and distribute to families to support their literacy practices at home. We anticipate that books and some supporting materials would come from UB’s partnership with Scholastic Education. 
The training should be based on lessons distilled from the Research Roundtables as described above; its goals should be to better prepare providers to support families’ literacy practices with:
  • Basic background information on early childhood language and literacy development.
  • Findings of local families’ strengths and areas in which support is needed.
  • Findings of areas in which local service-providers’ need guidance in supporting families.
  • Identification of evidence-based methods that families can use to support pre-literacy and literacy of infants and toddlers.
  • Recommended methods and tools for providers to use when engaging families about pre-literacy and teaching evidenced-based strategies that are responsive to local priorities and needs.
Following Reach Out and Read’s model, this training curriculum should be:
  • Provider-facing and designed to fit into a provider’s current priorities and practices: e.g. identifying the connections between literacy development and a provider’s area of expertise; suggestions for engaging families in waiting rooms; tips for working literacy support practices into the flow of providers’ typical family consultations.
  • Specify high-quality books and other materials to be used in conjunction with family engagement.
  • Describe ways to quickly assess families’ strengths and needs and respond appropriately.
  • Describe methods to engage families over time and across follow-up or multiple visits.
  • Include hand-outs for providers and families alike.
Deliverable 3: Revised Curriculum (May-Jul 2019) [$800-1000]
  • UB backbone staff will convene and facilitate a third 2-3 hour roundtable to workshop the first draft of the curriculum with families and professionals to ensure that their perspectives, strengths, and desires for support are addressed by the Books for Brownsville curriculum. Participants will include the families and service providers who participated in the first two roundtables. 
  • The consultant will attend this roundtable as a participant/observer and produce a summary of feedback from families and service providers as well as recommended changes to the curriculum.
  • The consultant will then revise the Books for Brownsville curriculum based on the Curriculum Review Roundtable.
Deliverable 4: Train the First Cohort of Providers (Jul-Aug 2019) [$800-1000]
  • UB and the consultant will co-develop a plan for training cohorts in the curriculum. Participants will come from UB’s Provider Action Team, composed of approximately 30 social service programs. 
  • UB staff and the consultant will collaborate to recruit training participants and, as necessary, group cohorts according to area of participant roles and areas of practice (e.g. medical, mental health, preventive services, early childhood education, etc.).
  • The consultant will train the first cohort of approximately 10-15 service program managers and front-line staff in the Books for Brownsville curriculum (1-2 hrs). 
Deliverable 5: Lead the first Community of Practice Meeting (Sep-Dec 2019) [$200-400]
  • The consultant, in coordination with UB staff, will lead the first quarterly convening (1-2 hrs) of providers trained in the Books for Brownsville curriculum to discuss experiences following the curriculum, share best practices, and promote a community of learning that enhances connectivity and strengthens relationships between and among local residents and providers. 

To Apply

Please send a single PDF or Word Doc containing your cover letter, resume, and a brief (5 pages maximum) writing sample relevant to this project to [email protected]. The subject line should read: “Books for Brownsville Project Consultant Application.”