Educating Adults in Western Massachusetts since 1984

News

The Literacy Project Addresses The Digital Divide With Free Computer Classes
October 15, 2013

The Literacy Project Celebrates James Joyce’s Bloomsday, June 16th - and Adult Literacy Every Day Join us for an evening of FUN!
June 10, 2013

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow presents Northampton City Council President Bill Dwight with his GED diploma in a benefit for The Literacy Project on June 2, 2013
May 10, 2013

With a grant from The Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Literacy project will hold free basic computer instruction for adults in their Northampton and Amherst classrooms.
February 21, 2013

Come Celebrate James Joyce’s Bloomsday, - June 16th - with The Literacy Project as Adult Learners Tackle Joyce’s Ulysses 
May 25, 2012

Poetry Festival in Greenfield to Benefit The Literacy Project
September 27, 2011

The Literacy Project Gets High Marks from the Department of Education
September 16, 2011

Listen to an Interview on WRSI With Former Literacy Project Student, Kipp Williams
October 2010

The Literacy Projects Offers Students Scholarships Toward College or Vocational Training For the Fifth Year. 
October 12, 2010

Adult Literacy Educator Makes an Impact 
September 22, 2010

United Bank Foundation Supports Adult Literacy in Northampton 
April 14, 2010

Nonprofits Share Space, Collaborate to Maximize Resources
January 26, 2010

$8,000 Challenge Grant Helps The Literacy Project Keep the Doors of Opportunity Open
September 30, 2009

Bridging the Digital Divide
October 15, 2013

NORTHAMPTON – With a grant from Newspapers of New England, The Literacy Project will hold free basic computer instruction for adults in their Northampton and Amherst classrooms. 

According to Judith Roberts, Executive Director of The Literacy Project, the “digital divide is very real for our adult literacy students, most of whom are low-income and do not have internet access at home.  We would be doing them a disservice to graduate them without the computer skills they’ll need in college and the workplace.”

Sheila Murphy, the Literacy Project’s Site Director for Amherst and Northampton, agrees: “Many of our students enter our classes with very limited knowledge of word processing and internet basics.  They know that computer skills are essential, and they want to learn.”

Current research supports these observations.  According to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 1 in 5 adults in the United States does not use the internet.  The numbers are much higher for adults who don’t have a high school diploma: nearly 60% of adults without a diploma do not use the Internet.  Income is also a factor: almost 40% of those with a household income under $30,000 don’t use the internet.  Not surprisingly, these are the same populations who are least likely to have high speed access at home.     

According to Murphy, “We integrate computers into our daily instruction, but we need to do more.  This grant will allow us to offer the dedicated computer instruction that our students are asking for.”  The grant comes at a particularly good time: beginning in 2014, GED tests will be computer-based. 

The free classes, which began in October, are designed to meet the needs of the individual students enrolled, advancing at the pace appropriate for each student.  Some students may be learning how to create and save files, while others may be learning how to create an email account, back up files, or create a Power Point presentation.   Additional funds will support the purchase, installation and maintenance of computers and network technology for student use.  Fall classes are underway and fully enrolled; Spring classes will begin in February.  To enroll, contact Sheila Murphy at 413-584-6755.

Since 1984, The Literacy Project has offered free adult literacy, GED prep and college-readiness classes in Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, Orange and Ware.  Over 400 students study with The Literacy Project each year.   

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Celebrate Bloomsday with us!
June 10, 2012
WHEN: Sunday, June 16th, 7-9 pm
WHERE: The People’s Pint Pub, 24 Federal Street, Greenfield, MA

To draw attention to their non-profit organization and mission, The Literacy Project (TLP) is hosting Bloomsday, pub-style, on June 16th, along with multitudes around the globe. Revelers can enjoy select readings from James Joyce’s Ulysses at The People's Pint and the favorite meal of the fictitious Leopold Bloom--Gorgonzola sandwiches and red wine--plus photo ops with a bust of Joyce himself, singing, dancing and stories, and decidedly Irish pints.

The Literacy Project’s underlying motivation for bringing Bloomsday to Western Massachusetts for its third year is to make revelers and others aware of TLP’s organization and mission, which is to provide free adult learning services—basic reading skills; GED or high school equivalency exam prep; and college readiness prep through classes and on-line learning—to residents of Franklin, Hampshire, and western Worcester counties.

The epic tome, filled with sweeping language and rambling stream-of-consciousness thought, is often considered daunting by skilled readers. Says Joe Panzica, GED teacher in Greenfield, “The beauty of Ulysses is that whether you are a PhD or a GED candidate, everyone needs help to understand it; everyone is in the same boat, reading Ulysses.”

Panzica, who has been teaching for 25 years, has used Ulysses in the past as a vehicle for preparing GED students for the test. One student, who has read at Bloomsday for the last two years, is planning on reading again this year because, as she says, "If it helps the Literacy Project, I'm glad to do it."

BLOOMSDAY
Bloomsday is a tradition that spans the globe from Dublin, Ireland, Joyce’s hometown, where the celebration began, to Brooklyn, New York; from Genoa, Italy to Szombathely, Hungary—the very real town where the fictional Bloom's father was born. In urban areas like these, Bloomsday is celebrated pub-crawl style.

The Literacy Project’s Bloomsday, however, takes place in just one family-friendly pub, The People’s Pint, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where pints will be flowing and select readings from Ulysses will take place from 7-9 pm.

THE LITERACY PROJECT
Judith Roberts, Executive Director of TLP, comments, "The Literacy Project is thrilled celebrate Bloomsday at The People's Pint because we believe passionately in literature, reading and writing. Bloomsday celebrates literature, and gives us a chance to shine a light on the 500 courageous men and women who come to our classrooms in Hampshire and Franklin County to improve their literacy skills every year."

BLOOMSDAY, A FUNDRAISER WITH AN EMPHASIS ON FUN!
Among short readings from the twisty, gorgeous passages of Ulysses by local luminaries— including Rabbi Weiner of the Jewish Community of Amherst, a Joyce Scholar—will be lively Irish music from the Irish Sessions Band and Rosemary Caine, Harpist, featuring an original song about Molly Bloom—plus dance from Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance.

Edwardian costumes are welcome—think bowler hats, caps, and shawls, and long skirts—for an authentic photo opportunity with a plaster-cast bust of James Joyce.

No cover charge but donations to The Literacy Project are welcome.

Supported by the People’s Pint and Greenfield Co-operative Bank.


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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow presents Northampton City Council President Bill Dwight with his GED diploma in a benefit for The Literacy Project

May 10, 2013

NORTHAMPTON - In her only commencement address of the year, the Valley’s own Rachel Maddow presents Northampton’s City Council President Bill Dwight with his GED diploma. The inimitable octogenarian rock and roll Young at Heart Chorus—just back from their sold-out European tour—will perform. As will indie singer songstress Erin McKeown singing Baghdad to the Bayou, which she co-wrote with Maddow. Local radio host Monte Belmonte, of WRSI/The River will MC.
The public’s invited.      

Tickets can be purchased at The Academy of Music’s website: www.academyofmusictheatre.com
All proceeds go to support The Literacy Project’s free adult education programs.
Maddow Cum Laude: A Benefit for The Literacy Project
Sunday, June 2, 11 a.m.

Background
Developmentally speaking, Dwight, the popular Northampton City Council President, should have gotten his high school diploma in 1973. But he was a bit of a wild child with bad grades. Interested in politics even then, he formed a group called LSD—Lynch Students for Democracy—at John Jay Lynch Junior High in Holyoke.  The principal called his parents at the end of the school year and said that if Dwight showed up the following year, he’d expel him on the first day of class. A series of private boarding schools followed, all of which booted him out.

But Bill grew up and made good. He was a video clerk at the indie film-buff video store, Pleasant Street Video. He became a city councilor. And was a local radio host on WHMP. And is now the City Council’s President.

Last year, Dwight was on a city council committee to review the city’s funding for non-profit organizations when Judith Roberts, Director of The Literacy Project (TLP), and several Literacy Project students came before the City Council hoping to receive funding. The students were there to tell their life-altering stories about the impact of getting a GED. The students were so nervous, Dwight recalls, that he tried to quell their nerves and offer comfort, “You guys have something on me. You have a diploma, and I don’t.”

That set his own quest for the piece of paper in motion. “I kicked butt on reading comp and writing. But I was terrible in math. If I’d gotten one more math problem wrong, I’d have flunked the test. I did take a math class at The Literacy Project.” Dwight passed and got his GED.

Maddow Cum Laude: A Benefit for The Literacy Project (TLP)
Dwight is not the only student who received his GED this year from The Literacy Project—he’s simply the most public figure to do so. Nor is he typical of the students who seek a GED. Most who seek a GED through TLP live in poverty--just one of the consequences of low literacy. This year, 67 other students also received their GEDs, ages 16 to 76.
While Bill will receive a diploma for himself on the stage at The Academy of Music, he will do so on behalf of all these many other students, who will be additionally honored in a short film during the program.

Staged as a graduation ceremony, “Maddow Cum Laude: a Benefit for The Literacy Project” derives its name from hometown hero Rachel Maddow, author and Peabody award-winning MSNBC host of The Rachel Maddow Show, who’ll be delivering a commencement address—the only one she’s cleared her schedule for this graduation season. While Dwight is a lovable local character in the Northampton area, Maddow is the real draw.

“We’re thrilled,” said Judith Roberts, executive director of The Literacy Project, “it’s an unbelievable honor for us, and an incredible opportunity for the community to hear Rachel speak, to celebrate Bill and our students, and for the community to get to know The Literacy Project. ”

Monte Belmonte of WRSI/The River will serve as MC, with special guests The Young at Heart Chorus, Erin McKeown, Mayor David Narkewicz,  former Mayor Mary Clare Higgins, and others. 

Dwight and Maddow have known each other since their radio days at WRSI/The River and WHMP where they both served as on-air hosts.

About Literacy
Current US census data states that a woman over the age of 25 in Franklin and Hampshire Counties can expect to earn $11,000 a year without a GED or High School diploma. With a GED or high school diploma and some community college her wages more than triple, to $36,000. To put this in perspective, a female-run family earning $11,000 annually cannot afford to leave a homeless shelter, locking her and her family in a cycle of poverty.

Most of the people who become students at The Literacy Project are stuck in low-paying jobs. Reasons for low literacy begin early in life, including: domestic violence, unidentified learning disabilities, bullying, substance abuse, incarceration, teen pregnancy, and/or homelessness.

The bottom line indicates this: the small funding it costs to send an adult through a literacy program and on to community college is a good investment in the local economy. Everyone wins.

About The Literacy Project (TLP)
Most students go to The Literacy Project already knowing how to read, but they may not be able to read well enough to move up in a job, help their children with homework, or enter college. The Literacy Project provides free adult learning services—basic reading skills; GED or high school equivalency exam prep; and college readiness prep through classes and on-line learning to residents of Franklin, Hampshire, and western Worcester counties (with classrooms in Northampton, Amherst, Greenfield, Orange and Ware). It serves roughly 500 students in a year, ages 16 to 76.

It’s not uncommon for students to find their way to TLP when they’re at a turning point in their lives, seeing education as a way to improve not just their own lives, but those of their children. 

"Everyone who comes to us wants to get a GED,” says Roberts. “Some students get their GEDs after 3 months of brushing up on math, some take more than 3 years. Our students are all on courageous journeys, heroes journeys to turn their lives around.” 

The Literacy Project provides free adult learning services—basic reading skills;  GED or high school equivalency exam prep; and college readiness prep through classes and on-line learning.

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Computer instruction at The Literacy Project
February 21, 2013

NORTHAMPTON –    With a grant from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Literacy Project will hold free basic computer instruction for adults in their Northampton and Amherst classrooms. 

According to Judith Roberts, Executive Director of The Literacy Project, the “digital divide is very real for our adult literacy students, most of whom are low-income and do not have Internet access at home.  We would be doing them a disservice to graduate them without the computer skills they’ll need in college and the workplace.”

Sheila Murphy, the Literacy Project’s Site Director for Amherst and Northampton, agrees: “Many of our students enter our classes with very limited knowledge of word processing and internet basics.  They know that computer skills are essential, and they want to learn.”

The grant was made by the charitable foundation of Newspapers of New England, parent company of the Gazette. Publisher Jim Foudy said the grant was given to support the general mission of the Literacy Project, including the new emphasis on computer instruction.

According to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 1 in 5 adults in the United States does not use the Internet.  The numbers are much higher for adults who don’t have a high school diploma: nearly 60% of adults without a diploma do not use the Internet.  Income is also a factor: almost 40% of those with a household income under $30,000 don’t use the internet.  Not surprisingly, these are the same populations who are least likely to have broadband access at home.     

According to Murphy, “We integrate computers into our daily instruction, but we need to do more.  This grant will allow us to offer the dedicated computer instruction that our students are asking for.”  The grant comes at a particularly good time: beginning in 2014, all GED tests will be computer-based. 

The free classes, scheduled to begin in September 2013, will be designed to meet the needs of the individual students enrolled, advancing at the pace appropriate for each student.  Some students may be learning how to create and save files, while others may be learning how to create an email account, back up files, or create a PowerPoint presentation.   Additional funds will support the purchase, installation and maintenance of computers and network technology for student use.

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Celebrate Bloomsday with us!
May 25, 2012
WHEN: Saturday, June 16th, 9-11 pm
WHERE: The People’s Pint Pub, 24 Federal Street, Greenfield, MA


Along with other international enthusiasts of James Joyce’s Ulysses—the epic tale of one fictitious Leopold Bloom and a day in his life in 1904The Literacy Project (TLP) celebrates Bloomsday on the traditional June 16th in Greenfield, MA at The People's Pint.

Unlike other Bloomsdays, however, The Literacy Project’s underlying motivation for bringing Bloomsday to Western Massachusetts for its second year is to make revelers and others aware of TLP’s organization and mission, which is to provide free adult learning services—basic reading skills; GED or high school equivalency exam prep; and college readiness prep through classes and on-line learning—to residents of Franklin, Hampshire, and western Worcester counties.

And unlike other literacy organizations, The Literacy Project is using Joyce’s Ulysses as a vehicle for preparing GED students for the test.  Says Joe Panzica, GED teacher and brainchild of introducing adult learners to this challenging material, “The beauty of Ulysses is that whether you are a PhD or a GED candidate, everyone needs help to understand it; everyone is in the same boat, reading Ulysses.”

The epic tome, filled with sweeping language and rambling stream-of-consciousness thought, is often considered daunting by skilled readers. To readers who may have been away from school for many years the task is considerable. “I’m having a hard enough time knowing what’s going on in my own brain, never mind Stephen Deadelus’,” groans an adult student named Kim, who is nevertheless relentless in his pursuit.

Susan, another student, who at 55 lost her job and decided to come to TLP to get her GED adds, “I have to keep re-reading it, but the more I read it, the more I understand it,” which is exactly what Panzica intended, seeing this as a pedagogic tool. “Reading and re-reading Joyce builds fluency and competence.”

Panzica has been teaching for 25 years. “As a teacher of adults, I don’t believe in starting at the bottom and working your way up; you’ll never get there. I believe in starting at the top, like with James Joyce, and then giving students the support and encouragement they need to understand and engage with the text.”

Reading one of Joyce’s masterworks is an incredibly multi-layered resource. Students learn the obvious: vocabulary and meaning, but students also learn about history, civics, democracy, religion, and ideas in context. Which is why Panzica also has students reading Hamlet and Nietzsche. Both Hamlet’s story and Nietzsche’s work help illuminate the content and context of Ulysses.

Panzica’s student Kim participated in reading Ulysses last year and is back at it again. “It’s more rewarding because it’s more in depth. The vocabulary helps me in my own writing.”

BLOOMSDAY
Bloomsday is a tradition that spans the globe from Dublin, Ireland, Joyce’s hometown, where the celebration began, to Brooklyn, New York; from Genoa, Italy to Szombathely, Hungary—the very real town where the fictional Bloom's father was born. In urban areas like these, Bloomsday is celebrated pub-crawl style.

The Literacy Project’s Bloomsday, however, takes place in just one family-friendly pub, The People’s Pint, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where pints will be flowing and select readings from Ulysses will take place from 7-9 pm.

THE LITERACY PROJECT
Judith Roberts, Executive Director of TLP comments, “Some people are surprised that students at The Literacy Project are reading Joyce because they assume that our students are beginning readers.  But actually, most of our students already know how to read; they just can’t read well enough to fill out a job application, write an essay, or enjoy a novel.  Whatever their skill level, we work with them until they’ve mastered the basics and are ready to move forward.

“By taking on such challenging material, our students are building skills as critical thinkers.  They’re also building confidence as readers and thinkers: if they can learn to read and appreciate Joyce, they can read anything! Our students are moving from literacy to literature.”
BLOOMSDAY, A FUNDRAISER WITH AN EMPHASIS ON FUN!

Among short readings from the twisty, gorgeous passages of Ulysses by local luminaries— including Rabbi Weiner of the Jewish Community of Amherst, a Joyce Scholar—will be lively Irish music from Nora Banracle's Own band members Sasha Hsuczyk and Jeff Lewis, and Rosemary Caine Harpist, plus dance from the Celtic Heels of Irish Dance.

The pints will be decidedly Irish. The food will look positively Joycean as folks can order just what Leopold Bloom did: a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of red wine. (As well as anything else on the menu.)

Edwardian costumes are welcome—think bowler hats, caps, and shawls, and long skirts—for an authentic photo opportunity with a plaster-cast bust of James Joyce. Prizes will be awarded for best costume.

No cover charge but donations to The Literacy Project are welcome. Supported by the People’s Pint and Greenfield Co-operative Bank.

 

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Greenfield Annual Word Festival
September 27, 2011
Greenfield - The Literacy Project and Human Error Publishing present the Greenfield Annual Word Festival on Saturday, October 15.  Students at The Literacy Project will join over 70 local and nationally recognized poets at ten venues in downtown Greenfield to read original works.  Proceeds benefit The Literacy Project.       

“We’re so happy to help sponsor this event because our students understand the value of words,” says The Literacy Project’s Executive Director, Judith Roberts.  “When our students find their voices as writers, they gain the power to tell their own truth.”

Roberts quotes one Literacy Project graduate who said:
“Words still, they’re still very much a weapon.  But I have taken them back and I’ve been using them.  Learning to go ahead and write them.  Learning that you have a right to write down anything you want to write, whether or not somebody likes it.  Learning that you have power.” 

Helping others find their voice motivated local performing artist and author Paul Richmond, www.humanerrorpublishing.com, to create the Greenfield Annual Word Festival.  Now in its second year, Richmond says the festival is “a celebration of words and the confidence to say them.  Having a voice, being able to put into words what you feel and think, helps create the ground floor for a working democracy,” explains Richmond.  “You are powerless without your voice.”   

Poets are scheduled for two times slots in the afternoon and evening of October 15th,, at 3:00 and 6:30.  An additional reading from 4:00-5:00 will feature poetry for children.  At 9:00 pm, the Festival concludes with readings from nationally recognized poets Tantra Zawadi, www.tantra-zawadi.com, and Timothy Mason, www.timothydmason.com.  All of the readings are free and open to the public, and donations will be collected to benefit The Literacy Project.  Maps and programs will be available on the Greenfield Town Common throughout the afternoon and evening of the Festival.  

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The Literacy Project Gets High Marks from the Department of Education
September 16, 2011
GREENFIELD –  After a thorough review by an evaluation team from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), The Literacy Project, based in Greenfield, MA, was commended for “providing quality instruction and consistently striving for excellence.”

A team of four Program Specialists from DESE visited The Literacy Project’s adult literacy and GED classes in Ware, Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield and Orange.  For three days, the team interviewed students, staff and volunteers and made a careful review of classroom lessons, records and finances.

In the team’s final report, they commended The Literacy Project’s “dedicated, creative and hardworking staff” who are “committed to providing quality instruction and consistently striving for excellence.”  In addition, the team commended The Literacy Project’s emphasis on helping students move beyond the GED to enroll in post-secondary education and training.  “Support services involving volunteers and counseling address the holistic strategies needed to ensure that each student may succeed.”

“We are very pleased that our major funder recognizes the hard work of both our dedicated teachers and our courageous adult students who are using the power of education to improve their lives, ” comments Judith Roberts, Executive Director of The Literacy Project.  The Literacy Project receives 72% of total revenue from DESE. 

The Literacy Project is one of the largest community-based, nonprofit adult education programs in the state.  Each year The Literacy Project educates over 400 adults in basic skills, preparing them for the GED test, community college, vocational training programs and the workplace.  Last year, 75 Literacy Project students earned a GED.  

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Scholarships for Our Students

October 2010
This fall, The Literacy Project is offering five $1000 scholarships this year to current or former TLP participants who are continuing their education in college or a vocational training program.  The funds have been generously provided by the Wapack Foundation. Applications are due by November 10, 2010 and recipients will be notified by December 6, 2010.

We are pleased that this grant can be somewhat flexible for the recipients. The award can be used to pay for tuition, fees, materials, or books at an accredited college or vocational training program.  It can also be used for expenses crucial to the applicant’s academic success. The award is intended to be used in the 2010-2011 school year, but it can be deferred with special permission from the Scholarship Committee.  The award can be paid directly to the school or program, or it can be paid to the applicant, if they submit receipts/documentation for expenses already paid this semester. 

Click here for a copy of the application, instructions and more details on eligibility.
You can also get a flyer for posting this information.

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Adult Literacy Educator Makes an Impact
Sept 22, 2010
WARE – There is no one right formula for success when it comes to helping an adult who is giving education another chance. But one thing all involved agree on is that having a supportive and encouraging teacher who makes a student feel comfortable and capable is a critical part of the mix. Carl Coniglio, site director of The Literacy Project’s Ware classroom, is one such teacher.

Carl started at The Literacy Project in 2001 and on Friday, September 17th. His passion for helping his students succeed was rewarded with a direct service award from COSA, the Council of Social Agencies of Hampshire County. Three of Carl’s students, aided by instructor Deirdre Loftus, were the driving force behind the recognition. “Carl is energetic and passionate about teaching,” Christine Kennedy said in the nomination letter the students wrote. “He will bend over backwards to try to help his students,” wrote Linda Fournier, a student of Carl’s for three years. The mark of any outstanding teacher is the influence that continues after a student has moved on, and as Crystal Tortora said of Carl, “he is always telling us he has faith in all of us and we can get our GED’s and have a successful life after leaving here.”

“We congratulate Carl on this well-deserved recognition” said Executive Director Judith Roberts. “Our students are so very lucky to have him and the many other professional, dedicated staff we have here at The Literacy Project. And we are grateful to COSA for making the effort to recognize excellence among the dedicated group of human service professionals in our region.”

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United Bank Foundation Supports Adult Literacy
April 14, 2010
Northampton –  Adult literacy students at The Literacy Project’s Northampton classroom are receiving help from United Bank Foundation this year as they work toward their education and career goals. The Foundation awarded $2,500 this winter to fund the classroom’s transitions program. The transitions program provides extra support for Adult Basic Education and GED students to build the skills they need to succeed when they are ready to take the next steps into college or vocational training and work that pays a fair living wage.

“In today’s economy, it takes computer literacy skills and more than a high school credential to succeed,” says Executive Director Judith Roberts. “And helping adult literacy students succeed is an investment that brings returns beyond the economic security students attain for their own lives, as they become able to contribute in so many meaningful ways to their families, our local businesses, the workforce, and our community. We are so grateful to United Bank Foundation for helping to keep the doors of opportunity open for our neighbors who are ready to move their lives forward, and for helping to make our community a better place overall. ”

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Nonprofits Share Space, Collaborate to Maximize Resources 
January 26, 2010

Amherst–  These are difficult times for local nonprofits.  With state and federal revenue down, service agencies are under pressure to meet more needs with fewer resources.  In order to survive and even thrive in this economy, The Literacy Project and the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA) have formed a creative collaboration: The Literacy Project’s Amherst classroom will now be located in the JCA’s building at 742 Main Street, Amherst. 

“We’ve had a 45% reduction in our revenue for Amherst,” explains The Literacy Project’s Executive Director Judith Roberts.  “We’ve had a wonderful relationship with our former landlord, Gillen and Associates, but sharing space with the JCA helps us to keep our costs down while we keep the doors of opportunity open for our students.  The JCA has been extremely welcoming, and we’re pleased that we’ve been able to create a collaboration that truly benefits both communities.”

“The JCA community is happy to support the Literacy Project by sharing our home in Amherst,” according to JCA Board Co-President, Lisa Perlbinder. "In difficult financial times, collaborations such as ours can make the difference between being able to provide valued services or having to turn people away, so we are pleased to help The Literacy Project to continue their vital work."

Working with volunteers from Amherst College, Amherst High School, Smith College, Greenfield Community College and the local community, The Literacy Project moved the classroom on January 18 and held classes in the new location on January 19th. 

While Amherst has a high percentage of residents with advanced education, those at the other end of the educational spectrum have few options.  1 in 7 residents in the Pioneer Valley do not have a GED or high school diploma.  Without a diploma or GED, a woman living in Hampshire County can only expect to earn $17,000 – not enough to survive without public subsidy. 

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$8,000 Challenge Grant Helps The Literacy Project Keep the Doors of Opportunity Open in Amherst and Northampton
September 30, 2009                                     

Greenfield – The Massachusetts Woman’s Home Missionary Union has awarded an $8,000 challenge grant to support the Passport to Success program at The Literacy Project’s classrooms in Amherst and Northampton. Passport to Success provides a vital complement to The Literacy Project’s basic, pre-GED, and GED classes, supporting adults and out-of-school youth to stay in class to earn a GED and to make the move to college, vocational training, and work.

The challenge requires that The Literacy Project raise an additional $2,000 by November 30. The funding will ensure that 35 people at each classroom benefit from the Passport to Success program this year. This is the first time The Literacy Project has been awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Woman’s Home Missionary Union, which was founded in 1879 to promote the welfare of those in need.

“We’re extremely grateful to Massachusetts Woman’s Home Missionary Union,” comments The Literacy Project’s Executive Director, Judith Roberts. “When our neighbors in need achieve economic self-sufficiency they can better support themselves and their families, and our whole community benefits. This is an exciting chance to invite the community to help us keep the doors of opportunity open.”

Last year, The Literacy Project served over 400 students; 66 earned a GED, 33 took a college course, 46 got a job, and many more achieved milestones toward those goals. “Whether adult learners and out-of-school youth want to get a job or a better job, or enroll in college or vocational training,” explains Roberts, “having support along the way can make the difference.”

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