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2020 VIRTUAL Literacy Volunteer Management Conference


Friday, December 4, 2020
8:30 a.m. - 2:45 p.m. CST

The Volunteer Management Conference (VMC) brings together K-12 and Adult Basic Education staff who work with volunteers: coordinators, teachers, and managers alike. It's a one-day professional development opportunity focused on working with volunteers. This year, the conference will be virtual, on Zoom.


Get Ready To:

  • Learn new strategies and ideas through 12 concurrent session offerings
  • Get practical resources you can use right away
  • Be inspired by this year's award winners for Excellence in Volunteer Engagement
  • Network and share your professional wisdom with colleagues
  • Earn CEUs


Conference Schedule:

8:30-9 a.m. | Kickoff and awards ceremony

9:15-10:15 a.m. | Concurrent sessions

10:30-11:30 a.m. | Concurrent sessions

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Lunch break

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Concurrent sessions

1:45-2:45 p.m. | Concurrent sessions


Event Location: Virtual, via Zoom

Cost: $20 (please note that credit card is the only payment option this year)

The deadline to register is December 3, 2020.


Sessions (schedule subject to change):


Communication Tools for Increasing Volunteer Access to Technology
Andy Francis, Andrea Echelberger, Literacy Minnesota

Unfamiliar technology is a barrier for many long-time ABE volunteers who would like to continue to volunteer remotely. In this workshop, discover tools from Literacy Minnesota that will help volunteer coordinators familiarize volunteers with WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Meet. These tools will support the training of volunteers on these three platforms, and include email templates, tutoring checklists, and recommendations for one-on-one or small group tech training sessions. Volunteers will be expected to have access to a computer and/or a smart phone, internet, and a willingness to try something new!

Juggling Is Not an Option! How to reduce stress, take care of yourself and set boundaries with your students and in your life
Wendy Sweeney, PANDA

Stress has been identified as a significant issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various educational changes and adaptations have increased the number of balls many of you have had to juggle, particularly if teaching online. Students are most likely struggling to make education a priority when they are trying to manage multiple life challenges. Come to this session to learn about how to drop some of the balls you are juggling. Lighten your load by gaining strategies on how to reduce stress, increase self-care and set boundaries for your students and in your life. This workshop is intended to meet CEU requirements in the area of understanding the key warning signs of early-onset mental illness.

Building Virtual Community
Lloyd Brown, Literacy Minnesota
Volunteers are unsure about the role they can play in the virtual teaching environment. Programs need to adapt to provide opportunities and support which attracts volunteers, as well as keeps them engaged to minimize turnover. This session will share lessons learned over the last eight months, and practical advice for building a successful volunteer-based virtual program.

10:30 - 11:30

Stop the Spread: Recognizing and treating the symptoms of racism and xenophobia in our adult language education settings
Dr. Jenna Cushing-Leubner, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Adult language and literacy education creates unique spaces where people from many backgrounds and places come together as neighbors with shared goals of expanding language skills and the possibilities that come with it. When educators and learners bring our whole selves to these spaces, this can also mean that we bring symptoms of the societal sicknesses of racism, xenophobia, classism, and language superiority. These symptoms can appear as biases, beliefs, assumptions, comments, and actions/inactions. Everybody is a carrier of these societal sicknesses, and our adult education settings can be places where they spread or are treated. In this workshop, we will use a dilemma processing tool to practice recognizing and interrupting these symptoms from real examples shared by Minnesota’s adult language and literacy volunteers.

Virtual Volunteer Onboarding: Prepping volunteers for 1-on-1 tutoring in a virtual world
Morgyn Wade, Literacy Minnesota

Struggling with engaging volunteers in this newfound normal? Open Door Learning Center’s Northside program shares their tried and true methods for preparing and onboarding volunteers to be successful virtual tutors in the midst of a global pandemic. From brand new volunteers to veteran teachers, we’ve got an approach that works for all experience levels. We’ll share what’s worked for us; and how you can adapt our model to fit your program's needs.

Beyond Slides: Tech Tools to Boost Engagement in Your Online Class
Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt, Literacy Minnesota
In this session, we will try out a selection of free, easy-to-use educational apps that tutors can use to increase interaction and learner engagement in online classes. Featured tools include,, and Jamboard, and more as time allows. If it’s time for your tutors to move beyond slide presentations, this is the session for you.

12:30 - 1:30

Bridging the Distance with Volunteers
Andrea Echelberger, Literacy Minnesota

Learning hasn’t stopped for the pandemic! Volunteers are stepping into a wide variety roles to keep learners engaged and connected with schools. Join this panel discussion to hear the creative ways that volunteer coordinators across four different metro and greater Minnesota programs are utilizing volunteers to tutor, teach, and advance learning for ABE students. Programs will share their successes, how they onboard and support volunteers, recommendations for successfully leveraging volunteers.

Using Volunteers in the Virtual Classroom
Rob Podlasek, Literacy Minnesota

The shift to teaching remotely has required us to look at new ways to use volunteers. Join us for a panel presentation featuring ABE teachers who have successfully integrated volunteers into their virtual teaching routines. Panelists will share the tasks they have had volunteers do, and how they have prepared and supported volunteers in their new roles.

A Panel Discussion: Engaging Volunteers with Disabilities 2.0
Andy Francis, Literacy Minnesota
In this session, we will hear from panelists about their experience as a volunteer with a disability or their experience working with volunteers with disabilities in Adult Basic Education. Panelists will share their challenges and solutions concerning current issues like volunteering in a virtual context, creating inclusive learning communities during COVID and many more ideas.

This session is intended to be a safe, reflective space to brainstorm ideas and address questions. This is a great opportunity for those who are new to conversations about accessibility, inclusion and disability advocacy or those who would like to share their knowledge and experience with the group. All are welcome!


Resources for Training and Supporting Virtual Volunteers
Andrea Echelberger, Rob Podlasek, Literacy Minnesota

In response to the shift to remote instruction, Literacy Minnesota has developed a variety of tools to train and support volunteers who are new to tutoring virtually. Come learn about the webinars, videos, toolkits and other resources that are currently available. This workshop will highlight the new volunteer certificate programs offered through Literacy Minnesota, and will also preview upcoming volunteer training plans. Participants will have the opportunity to provide feedback on existing and future volunteer training and resource needs.

Tips to Protect Online Privacy
Jason Brazier, Literacy Minnesota
As the world has switched to more and more online communication, questions of protecting privacy have arisen. This session will help you keep student/volunteer meetings secure by reviewing several meeting platforms and guide you through their privacy settings. We will also discuss ways to make voice and emails more secure.

Figuring It Out Together: Discussing common challenges in volunteer programming
Kirsten Collins, Literacy Minnesota
2020 has brought unimaginable changes to the way we work. Many programs report struggling to support volunteers or build community remotely. The saying, “necessity is the mother of invention" has proven itself true time and time again, as we have had to learn how to serve our learners and volunteers in new and innovative ways. Join us to discuss challenges you’ve experienced in volunteer programming over the past year, share lessons learned and brainstorm possible solutions with your colleagues.

If there is a specific topic or issue you’d like to brainstorm solutions for with your colleagues, please complete this google form so we can prepare to facilitate the discussion (or simply bring your thoughts to the session).