The ALC Network has grown to include over 120 members around the world. Members include learning centers, schools, part-time programs, homeschool resource centers, families, cooperatives, practicing facilitators, meet-up groups, researchers, play advocates, and more!
After reflecting on the success of increasing the accessibility of Network membership by creating an option for individuals, we kicked off 2020 further increasing accessiblity by converting annual membership contributions from fixed amounts -- $65 USD for individuals and $95 USD for organizations -- to variable amounts between $50 USD and $250 USD based on each member's offer. We saw an increase in membership sign-ups after making this announcement, and overall our network continued to grow in 2020. While we did feel the impact of COVID-19 closing projects and cancelling events that usually grow our membership, it seems the increased flexibility allowed some members to join or maintain membership even while their projects and personal situations were in flux.
Through 2020, we lost 11 members and added 30. Of the 30 new members, 13 submitted information to be added to our map. 6 of those were added as projects and 7 as individual network members. Early in the year, we rolled out a map update that existing network members needed to resubmit information to be included on. The initiative had momentum until around March, when the pandemic threw the formats and futures of many projects into question. Between this uncertainty interrupting our ability to collect updated information and shifting legalities around self-directed education in some countries leading groups to keep their interest informal while waiting for clarity from their local officials, our 2020 map less accurately portrays the extent of our network than in years past. Regardless, we are grateful to Karl Keefer for the map update, which the 56 projects and people currently spotlighted on are delighted with, and to Tomis Parker for updating our new member forms. It's exciting to have updated tools moving into 2021!
Speak of updates, by next year's report we expect to have released an updated version of the Starter Kit and Facilitator Guide. Our last update was released in early 2018...which doesn't feel so long ago and also in light of this past year feels like it's certainly long enough ago that we're due for an update. Since last year’s report, our current version, in both English and Spanish, was downloaded from our website 654 times. This brings the total number of downloaders to date up to 4326.