Cultures and Literacies Through Art for the 21st Century

CALTA21 Logo

CALTA21 uses art and museums as catalysts for learning. It is based upon the premise that visual literacy skills are transferable to other literacies and that art can be a powerful conduit to finding meaning in text. While looking at art and participating in facilitated discussions and recreating their immigrant stories, adult ELLs build new vocabulary, strengthen critical thinking skills, engage in dialogue, develop intercultural capital, articulate interpretations and develop a voice that draws from their wealth of experiences and background knowledge. CALTA21 builds an intercultural community of global learning and civic engagement.

A dynamic environment where museums provide authentic, meaningful and engaging experiences to immigrant communities and where learning, enjoyment and civic engagement support the development of the individual’s voice.

To serve as a national model and catalyst for the empowerment of adult immigrants and their families through the development of collaborations amongst museums, institutions of higher education and literacy organizations. To support systemic change that transforms museums into powerful learning spaces for adult immigrants. To be a vehicle to strengthen the immigrant’s voice by encouraging the development of their academic, social, cultural and civic capital.

Our model, a collaborative process supported by a professional development institute and the CALTA21 curriculum "Identity, Portraiture and Photography," fosters the empowerment of the adult immigrant community.

Who does CALTA21 serve?

The project’s target audiences are:

  1. Adult English Speakers 0f Other Languages (ESOL) seeking to develop their English literacy skills and their families
  2. Museum professionals and volunteers
  3. Faculty from community college literacy programs and staff of community based organizations

How do we do it?

CALTA21 is a model initiative, resulting from a continual cycle of design-implementation-evaluation and revision of its two main cornerstones: a professional development institute (PDI) and the curriculum Identity, Portraiture and Photography.

What are the outcomes of CALTA21?

Measurable outcomes and resources include:

  1. Improved literacy skills and increased social/cultural capital for ELL participants and their families
  2. Capacity building for museum and literacy educators
  3. The inception of museum-community college partnerships both regionally and across the nation
New practices, materials and resources to support the ongoing implementation of CALTA21, all of which will substantially extend the benefit of IMLS's National Leadership Grant (NLG) investment and increase museum access and participation for thousands of America’s newest residents

Who supports CALTA21's implementation and dissemination?

CALTA21's implementation and dissemination plans are coordinated by:

  1. The project team, Queensborough Community College, CUNY, the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs Language and Literacy Programs under the leadership of Dr. Leslee Oppenheim,
  2. Visual Understanding in Education (VUE), the organization that created and supports VTS
  3. The participating museums during this grant period: El Museo del Barrio, The Rubin Museum of Art, The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College and The Katonah Museum of Art.
  4. Extensive presentations in local, regional, national and international professional conferences by Patricia Lannes and Kitty Bateman

Aligned with IMLS’s goals of creating models that can be implemented nationally, CALTA21 will develop a national network of organizations interested in implementing the model. By virtue of the collaborative implementation of CALTA21, partnerships will form and grow open pathways for some of the country’s newest residents to enhance language skills, develop cultural and social capital, facilitate access to higher education, and support workforce development, while simultaneously helping each institution expand its reach and maintain its relevance in increasingly diverse communities.

For more information on becoming a CALTA21 implementation site

please contact Patricia Lannes, Project Director or phone her at 516-313-1091.


image for the QCC Literacy Program Facebook page