Learning Ally is not a stranger in the audiobook space. The 75-year-old non-profit education solutions company continues to transform the lives of over 260,000 educators in 20% percent of our nation’s schools, reaching over 1.6 million students each year with their vanguard audiobook solution. To achieve this success, the company relies on the necessary help of its Volunteer Nation, over 1,000 volunteers strong.

In 2018, the company received The Library of Congress Literacy Award recognizing the outstanding achievements of organizations whose innovative and research-based best practices serve to improve literacy worldwide.

What you may not know is that Learning Ally has recently expanded their audiobook production team to support even further innovation. Team members have experience as audiobook recordists, engineers, booth directors, voice talent, podcast producers, writers, proofers and editors. The new team is committed to democratizing literacy through the power of the human voice while giving back to the artistic community.

“The partnership between the artistic community and the educational community is a natural one and time-honored. We are simply moving it into the audiobook space,” says Danielle Quisenberry-Ruvolo, an audiobook producer at Learning Ally. She has been training top-drawer voice talent in the New York City market for years and is part of the new team.

Learning Ally is building a roster of artist/activists, making a place where new narrators can learn the craft, develop their careers and make their voices count.

By volunteering to serve in Learning Ally’s new Voice for Literacy Program emerging narrators not only give educational access to the 65% of America’s children who are reading below grade level, they receive ongoing mentorship themselves.

During the program, mentees may receive a home studio consultation, narration coaching, and direction on Learning Ally titles as well as training on production processes, such as how to create prep guides and pronunciation guides, and tips on self-directing and recording at home.

Voice for Literacy guides new narrators through each step of the production process. Regular online group training workshops are offered to volunteers free of charge. The new narrator’s in Learning Ally’s program gain real-world work experience as they lend their powerful voices to the award-winning stories educators and children need.

Recently, veteran Learning Ally narrator Annette Oliveira, who has been saying “yes to literacy” for years, branched out into commercial publishing by voicing her first title with a powerhouse publisher. Ms. Oliveira told us: "Working with Learning Ally developed my ability to deliver narration, create characters and sustain long reading sessions. It also helped me refine the computer and technical audio skills narrators must have these days. The folks at Learning Ally are great to work with. It feels so good to help out the students they serve."

The production team is also proud of its new partnership with the Audio Publishers Association’s DEI Mentorship Program. "We are happy to partner with Learning Ally to help new narrators from the APA DEI mentorship program have an opportunity to work on a title and hone their craft as they begin their audiobook journey," says Michele Cobb, Executive Director of the APA.

Both the APA and Learning Ally are champions of representation in the audiobook industry. Both organizations believe that it is vital to their communities to develop and support narrators who can tell the diverse and global stories we need to tell now, authentically. In this partnership, narrators work with their APA mentors in cooperation with Learning Ally’s Voice for Literacy initiative. Additional benefits for the participants who participate through the APA include the opportunity to develop a portfolio of samples they can use to pursue paid work and the possibility of working on a SAG/AFTRA contract to allow new narrators to work toward SAG/AFTRA eligibility.

To learn more about how to volunteer for Voice for Literacy and receive free training click here.

To learn more about the APA's DEI Mentorship Program click here.

To learn more about using audiobooks as a tool in a comprehensive literacy solution visit Sound Learning right here on the APA website.

Questions? Please contact Danielle Quisenberry- Ruvolo at DQuisenberry-Ruvolo@learningally.org