NORFOLK, VA – Norfolk has launched the Believe in Norfolk online portal, an innovative digital warehouse of formal and informal learning opportunities. Inspired by the work of the Mayor’s Commission on Lifelong Learning, more than 140 nonprofits and partner organizations including Tidewater Community College, the Elizabeth River Trail, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and Primeplus collaborated to build this digital course catalogue.
“A commitment to providing everyone with opportunities for lifelong learning is critical for Norfolk’s resilience and success,” said Councilwoman Mamie Johnson and Lifelong Learning Commission co-chair. “Our residents view learning as a lasting process that extends beyond the classroom, into our libraries, and onto virtual learning platforms. We are excited to introduce this incredible online portal that will assist lifelong learners in earning recognized credentials and connect all of our residents to opportunities for professional and personal achievement.”
The portal was created in partnership with the Slover Library, which will play a key role in promoting the new website and events tied to the launch. The online learning portal is just one of the multiple platforms of access for the Believe in Learning office.
A citywide team has worked since February 2020 to organize existing learning opportunities, which can be accessed using online registration links. The portal provides an entry point to explore learning opportunities throughout the city. Residents will have the opportunity to complete courses and earn virtual badges to demonstrate learning. The need for ease of access to opportunities for learning, connection and engagement has been critical as social distancing and virtual communication has become the norm over the last year. To ensure that learning is available to everyone in Norfolk, the Believe in Learning team will use data to identify gaps, as well as to identify areas to eliminate duplication and increase efficiency.
“When the Lifelong Learning Commission was established in 2017, it was inspired by council discussions about the importance of education as a strategic priority,” said Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Ph.D. “Lifelong learning has immense cognitive, emotional, social, and economic benefits. We are grateful former Councilwoman Theresa Whibley, M.D., helped to launch this important group with Councilwoman Johnson to foster healthy families, schools, and communities. The creation of this online learning portal is just one of the initiatives to emerge from this commission.”
The Believe in Learning kickoff celebration, taking place from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28, features both virtual and physically distanced, in-person events that underscore the depth and breadth of learning opportunities in Norfolk. Offerings range from yoga to poetry, photography to piano, master gardening tours to workforce readiness.
This kickoff also marks the beginning of Norfolk’s pursuit of a designation this spring as a “learning city” through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).