Category: Uncategorized

LiteracyCNY participates in #LiteracyLiftsNewYork Rally

New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy

For Immediate Release
March 4th, 2019

Ariel Savransky, UJA-Federation of New York, 203-722-3713
Lena Cohen, United Neighborhood Houses, 802-558-4655

New Yorkers Rally for State Investment in Adult Literacy Hundreds Slated to Lose Classes in Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal Albany – Over 100 New Yorkers rallied Monday morning on the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capital Building to save their adult literacy classes and advocate for increased investment in these crucial programs. According to the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) – a collection of nonprofit community based organizations, libraries and CUNY branches that provide English language and other adult literacy programs – the Governor’s 2019-20 Executive Budget proposal contains a $1.5m funding reduction that will eliminate literacy classes for hundreds of students throughout the State. Advocates say that without these classes, immigrants and other adult learners are unable to get better jobs, attend college, or participate in their children’s education. Joining them were Assembly Members Ron Kim, Patricia Fahy and Yuh-Line Niou, Senator Jessica Ramos and a number of Senate and Assembly supporters, literacy partners from Syracuse and Albany and immigrants, adult learners, educators and their allies. These proposed cuts, coupled with changes at the Federal level, may result in thousands of students no longer able to benefit from their current educational programs. For low-income adults, the education they need as a first step to securing employment and successful entry into the job market will be less accessible. Literacy programs provide a pathway to economic mobility, social integration, parent-child engagement, improved health outcomes and improved community safety. According to NYCCAL any action to eliminate adult literacy classes would be harmful to the individuals and families working toward self-improvement.

Elected Official Remarks:
Assemblymember Ron Kim said, “It is time the Governor recognize the vital importance of adult literacy education (ALE) for over 3.5 million New Yorkers and stop cutting funding for ALE from his annual executive budget proposals. ALE students and advocates should not be forced to fight tooth and nail just to protect the progress they made in previous years – especially not under a unified government. The gap between the amount needed for proper language education services versus the state allotment is unacceptable. Adult literacy programs provide a path to economic mobility and social integration for countless people, and we absolutely must increase ALE funding to meet this growing need.”
Assemblymember Pat Fahy said, “Adult literacy education (ALE) provides new English language learners and new Americans with a vital resource – literacy classes where there is an opportunity to comprehensively learn the English language. For all adults, but especially New York’s new Americans, literacy skills are key to employment, community integration, and entering the workforce. New YorkState’s economy is strengthened by increasing access to classes for learning the English language.”

Coalition Member Remarks
“Proficiency in English is essential to fully partake in the economic, social, and civic aspects of our society. However, settlement houses and other providers of adult literacy classes can only meet 3% of the massive and growing need at current funding levels,” said Lena Cohen, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses. “New York State must invest in Adult Literacy Education so more immigrants can access the essential courses and services they need to build better lives for themselves and their families.”
More than ever, New York needs to fully fund its adult literacy programs to safeguard and expand opportunity for immigrant communities. The literacy and basic skills that participants gain through these programs are critical to employment opportunities and economic mobility, school performance, health, and community safety. It’s critical that New York step up for these vital services. Our centers depend on this funding to drive the work we do. –Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
“State funding cuts for Adult English language learners on Long Island will set the immigrant community behind on progress gained in recent years, eliminating funding that once provided classes to thousands of adults on Long Island will abandon them in the midst of their journey towards the American dream. With more than 526,000 immigrants on Long Island, making up approximately 40% of Nassau and Suffolk County residents, funding for free or low-cost ALE classes is essential to improving the overall wellbeing of Long Island communities. At CARECEN’s Pathway to English program, students are not only gaining valuable cultural and civic knowledge, their literacy and language education is crucial to building strong families, encouraging financial independence, reducing poverty and vulnerabilities, paving the way toward greater opportunities. However, we must close this gap between low-literacy learners, secondary education, and workforce development through ALE and multi-generational initiatives so that no one is left behind.” -Becca Reed, ESOL Services Coordinator, Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)
“There are more than 60,000 adults in Onondaga County with limited literacy and English proficiency. We have one of the highest percentages of families living in inter-generational poverty in the country. Combined, adult education programs serve less than 10% of the eligible population because resources are so scarce. ALE funding allows LiteracyCNY to enroll more than 460 adults per year into its instructional programs. If ALE funding is not fully restored or increased this year, we will have to cut enrollments in half.” – Marsha L. Tait, Executive Director of LiteracyCNY
Ariel Savransky, an Advocacy and Policy Advisor at UJA-Federation of New York, said, “Literacy programs are critical tools for adults with limited English proficiency. In this uncertain political climate and with the anticipated loss of federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding, those most in need of adult literacy programs may no longer have access to them. We urge the Governor to invest in Adult Literacy Education, which coupled with increased State funding for the nonprofit sector’s workforce and infrastructure, will allow our network of nonprofit agencies to continue to provide these essential services to the individuals who need them and give them every opportunity to thrive.”
“22% percent of New York State residents suffer from low literacy, severely limiting their quality of life and often leading to unemployment, poverty, health issues, and even incarceration. Thousands of adult students are supported by Adult Literacy Education (ALE) dollars in the Rest of State region each year. This investment in adult education results in higher salaries, enhanced job security, increased tax revenues, reduced correctional costs and decreases the drain on social program services. Without this critical funding, we can’t offer these adults the help they need to lead healthier, more productive and engaged lives as parents, workers, and New Yorkers.” -Kathy Houghton, Interim Executive Director, Literacy New York

LiteracyCNY Announces 9th Annual SCRABBLEMania!

For Immediate Release
January 7, 2019
Marsha L. Tait, LiteracyCNY
315-471-1300 X171

LiteracyCNY Announces 9th Annual SCRABBLEMania Tournament

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — LiteracyCNY is hosting its 9th annual SCRABBLEMania Tournament at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

“We’re very excited about holding the event at the beautifully renovated Marriott Syracuse Downtown this year,” said Marsha L. Tait, LiteracyCNY’s Executive Director. “The tournament will be in the Finger Lakes Ballroom; and the refreshments, entertainment, and raffle prizes will be in the adjacent foyer, the Cavalier Room and the lobby, giving us plenty of room to host the large group that is expected.”

At the SCRABBLEMania Tournament, teams of 8-10 players compete against each other to build the highest possible scoring SCRABBLE® board in three 25-minute rounds of play. Prizes will be awarded to each Round Champion, and one team will be named the Grand Champion.

Many local companies and organizations start practicing to compete in the fall. Bowers & Company said, “SCRABBLEMania has become so popular with our employees and customers that we are now filling two tables every year!”

The event includes game playing, refreshments, raffle prizes, and live entertainment from internationally acclaimed jazz musician and six-time SAMMY award winner Ronnie Leigh. 93Q’s Ted and Amy will return as celebrity emcees.

All proceeds help provide adults in Central New York with the literacy skills they need to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and become economically self-sufficient.

For attendees who have not participated before, photos and video are available at

For inquiries about corporate sponsorships, tables and individual tickets, please contact LiteracyCNY at 315-471-1300 x172. Additional event details, registration link, scores and more from #2018SCRABBLEMania are online at

About LiteracyCNY

LiteracyCNY’s mission is to provide adults in Central New York with the literacy tools and skills that they need to be contributing, productive, and engaged members of the community. We do this by advocating for adult education, providing instruction, and partnering with other community based agencies. Improving access to adult literacy addresses inter-generational poverty and makes our community stronger. LiteracyCNY enrolled more than 450 adult students last year and consistently exceeds its NYS Department of Education mandates.
For more information, visit or contact


LiteracyCNY Receives Dollar General Literacy Foundation Grant

May 10, 2018 06:55 AM Eastern Daylight Time

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded more than $8.3 million to more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations, libraries and schools. The grants seek to support the Foundation’s commitment to advancing adult, family and summer literacy programs throughout the communities that Dollar General (NYSE: DG) serves.

“We are honored to fund literacy and education initiatives, which support our mission of Serving Others”

“We are honored to fund literacy and education initiatives, which support our mission of Serving Others,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO. “The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018 and a legacy of helping people improve their lives through literacy and education. Including the grants announced today, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has provided more than $154 million in funding to help more than 10 million people. We believe these programs can have a positive impact on the communities we serve and we look forward to continuing to partner with organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.”

Grant recipients plan to use the awarded funds to promote literacy and learning across a variety of programs including: promoting childhood summer reading, helping adults learn to read and prepare for the high school equivalency exam, and helping individuals to learn English. With more than 35 million American adults reading at the lowest level of literacy and 63 percent of fourth graders reading below a proficient level, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation believes that these targeted programs can deliver immediate and long-term impact.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is currently accepting applications for youth literacy grants through Thursday, May 17, 2018. Youth literacy grants support schools, public libraries and nonprofit organizations in implementing new literacy efforts or expanding existing ones. Funding can be used to purchase new technology, equipment, books, materials or software to enhance literacy programs.

A complete list of today’s grant recipients and applications for youth literacy grants are available online at

Each year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards funds to nonprofit organizations, schools and libraries within a 20-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center to support adult, family, summer and youth literacy programs. Through partnerships with national literacy organizations like the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, XPRIZE Foundation and the American Libraries Association, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation supports organizations that increase access to educational programming, stimulate and enable innovation in the delivery of educational instruction and inspire a love of reading.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation also offers a student referral program for individuals interested in learning how to read, speak English or prepare for the high school equivalency exam. Referrals to a local organization that provides free literacy services are available online here or through referral cards found in the Learn to Read brochures that are available at the cash register of every Dollar General store.

For additional information, photographs or items to supplement a story, please visit the Dollar General Newsroom or contact the Media Relations Department at 1-877-944-DGPR (3477) or via email at

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $154 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 10 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, visit

Adult Literacy Champion Barbara Bush Passes Away at Age 92

Former First Lady Mrs. Barbara Bush once said,“The American Dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard.  If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed.”

Mrs. Bush used her position and influence as First Lady to champion the cause of adult and family literacy.

Over the years, Mrs. Bush and LiteracyCNY Founder Ruth Colvin enjoyed a close friendship.  On the occasion of Mrs. Colvin’s 100th birthday party at the Syracuse Marriott Downtown, Mrs. Bush (honorary chair of the event) sent video-taped birthday greetings to Mrs. Colvin.  Click here to watch her message.

Although Mrs. Bush led a full and remarkable life, those of us who work in the field of adult education will always remember her as a strong and passionate advocate for adult literacy.

You can read more about the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy here.

Adult Literacy Rally in Albany on March 5, 2018

View video from the adult literacy rally in Albany on March 5, 2018 here. Speakers included Assistant Speaker of the Asssembly Felix W. Ortiz, Assembly Members Kim and Fahey, rally organizer Kevin Douglas from United Neighborhood Houses, colleagues and students from across NYS, and LiteracyCNY Executive Director Marsha L. Tait.

LiteracyCNY Students Visit the Everson Museum of Art

On Wednesday February 28, 2018 LiteracyCNY Instructors Doug Randall and Ginny Felleman, and Program Manager Anne Whitmore accompanied 25 English Language Learners on a field trip to the Everson Museum of Art. Before they went, they learned about I. M. Pei, the architect.

Here are some highlights from the trip!

LiteracyCNY Executive Director Named Executive of the Year!

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2018

Contact: Marsha L. Tait, LiteracyCNY
315-471-1300 X171

Danielle Gerhart, Bankers Healthcare Group

LiteracyCNY Executive Director Marsha L. Tait Honored at 2018 NonProfit Awards

SYRACUSE, NY — LiteracyCNY Executive Director Marsha L. Tait will receive the Executive of the Year award at the 10th annual Biz Eventz Nonprofit Awards Presented by M&T Bank on March 28, 2018 at the Holiday Inn, Liverpool.

Board of Directors President Bill Byrne said “I was pleased to nominate Marsha for the Executive of the Year award because her leadership and innovation has positively affected the lives of thousands of students. This recognition of her sustained effort to improve literacy in our community is well deserved.”

Tait said, “I am so humbled to be given this award. I am terribly proud of the work that our team – Board Members, staff, and volunteers – does to help adults in our community to transform their lives through literacy. We estimate that there are more than 60,000 adults in Onondaga County who have only the most limited literacy skills and/or English proficiency. Most of them live with inter-generational poverty. Adult education gives people hope and unlocks their human potential. It is so rewarding to watch students pursue their educational dreams with the help of our program!”

LiteracyCNY’s mission is to provide adults in Central New York with the literacy tools and skills that they need to be contributing, productive, and engaged members of the community. We do this by advocating for adult education, providing instruction, and partnering with other community based agencies. Improving access to adult literacy addresses inter-generational poverty and makes our community stronger.

LiteracyCNY enrolled more than 500 adult literacy students last year and has been ranked Highly Proficient by the NYS Department of Education for several years.

For more information or to purchase a ticket to the 2018 Nonprofit Awards Luncheon, please visit:
For more information about LiteracyCNY, please visit