They came from 45 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Colombia. From September 24-26, 2018, over 700 education professionals descended upon Fort Lauderdale for the 2018 Families Learning Conference. The shared goal? Helping families get out of poverty through education solutions. This multi-sector convening brought together educators, social service providers, librarians, policymakers, and funders with the focus of sharing resources, strategies, and tools to use in communities and with families everywhere.

The Conference kicked off with an energetic keynote by Dr. Sharroky Hollie, who shared how cultural responsiveness can be used to increase family engagement, address inequities, and give outrageous love to those we serve.

On Monday, attendees enjoyed coffee and sweet treats with GED Testing Service®’s CEO Randy Trask, who fielded questions pertaining to adult education and the GED®, both from the audience and on Twitter. Later, the PNC Grow Up Great® Welcome Reception featured resources in early childhood education by PNC partners, in addition to beautiful ocean views. Monday ended on the topic of digital skills with Google, when attendees got a sneak peek of CS First and Applied Digital Skills–both explored in greater detail Tuesday.

Tuesday began with a powerful, somber keynote by Stanley Holder, who spoke about the challenges of building the Acoma education system for Native Americans; about healing the wounds of the community; and how family and early childhood learning are keys to establishing a generational pattern and expectation of success.

NCFL’s signature Conference event, the Banquet Celebration, included an inspiring keynote by Brad Meltzer, best-selling author and television host, who stressed that ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact on many lives without even knowing it. He reminded the audience to say Thank You to those who have helped us along the way, and through everyday actions, pay it forward and leave a legacy of impact on others.

Wednesday didn’t fail to send off attendees fully galvanized. The morning began with their choosing between two in-depth, thought-provoking sessions, “Creating More Inclusive Spaces: Our Roles as Institutional Actors” and “Moving From ‘Surviving to Thriving’: Trauma Attuned Transformation Using the Nurtured Heart Approach©,” both of which took aim at uncomfortable, but necessary, topics. “Creating More Inclusive Spaces” addressed institutional racism and how we can become aware of and move past implicit bias in our interactions and work with others.

“Moving from ‘Surviving to Thriving’” explored a technique to help teachers who work with students suffering from complex trauma. Attendees learned methods to de-escalate situations and help students to identify triggers and employ strategies to calm themselves.

The Conference ended with brunch and a closing keynote by Tom Vander Ark, who spoke on the topic of how artificial intelligence is shaping our world, and the emerging literacies and skills students need to hone to succeed in our future economy.

NCFL President and Founder, Sharon Darling closed the Conference with the announcement that our 2019 Conference, and 30th anniversary celebration, will be held in Louisville, Kentucky Nov. 4-6, 2019. Two lucky winners had their names drawn for free registrations to attend.

By now, the passionate, tireless attendees we shared three days with have gone home to their schools and programs. We hope they will share what they gained from the 2018 Families Learning Conference with those around them, amplifying the benefit to families and communities.

Did you attend #NCFL18? Please share your favorite moments in the comments below!