Our Story

Foresight for the Future of Literacy

The story of the Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy (JCCL) began in 2010 with a gift from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation. In partnering with the University of Northern Iowa, this gift allowed creation of a center that focuses on supporting teachers to create classrooms where every learner can reach their literacy potential.

Let us teach every child how to use reading as a superpower to elevate her mind, spirit, and overall sense of well-being. Through the gift of reading, we give this child the chance to be in the world – a world that she makes on her own, where she never feels alone, 365 days a year.

Allyn & Morrell, 2015

Our Vision and Purpose

Our Vision

Offering unique opportunities for pre-service and in-service teachers to inquire about the teaching and learning of literacy, the JCCL will be an extension of the diverse and inclusive campus community of UNI providing community-engaged opportunities for new, innovative thinking about literacy education empowering all involved to lead and share that learning both locally and globally.

What We Do

The JCCL will focus on education, coaching, and mentoring teachers (pre-service & in-service) and administrators to develop effective instructional practices based on current literacy research.


Our "Why?"

The JCCL’s mission is to promote comprehensive literacy of all learners by transforming literacy education through expanding pre-service and in-service teachers’ literacy knowledge and instructional expertise in professional learning communities.

Our History

How it Began

The Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy was established in November 2010 with a gift of $11 million. A Belmond, Iowa, native, Mr. Jacobson was an outstanding supporter of the University of Northern Iowa, along with numerous other educational and civic programs and projects throughout Iowa.

Our History

When the JCCL was first established, the focus was on preparing Reading Recovery teacher leaders and intervention literacy coaches in the Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy (PCL) model. In 2020, with the guidance of a transition task force, the center shifted our focus to create original professional learning experiences for teachers and conduct research on transformative comprehensive literacy, continuing to support and sustain educators and districts in comprehensive approaches toward literacy teaching and learning.


Who We Are

Three directors have provided guidance to the JCCL:

  • 2020-present    
    Lori Norton-Meier, PhD
  • 2019-2020        
    Deborah Tidwell, PhD
  • 2010-2019
    Salli Forbes, PhD

Meet the dedicated JCCL team