Category: Uncategorized

Keep LiteracyCNY Going!

Regrettably, the decision to suspend operations made by the LiteracyCNY Board of Directors last Tuesday is moving forward. Our classroom instruction program is ending this Friday, October 30 and all staff will be laid off before November 30. This decision has been necessitated by: 1. the COVID-19 epidemic; and 2. the Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo in August suspending contract payments to nonprofits, including LiteracyCNY.
There is some movement on the part of Literacy Volunteers Founder Ruth Colvin and other interested individuals to explore restructuring LiteracyCNY as an all-volunteer tutoring program in the future – and any donations that come in now that are not needed for expenses in connection with suspension of operations will be retained for future use by the organization for that purpose. If you are interested in assisting with this planning effort, please contact Mrs. Colvin directly at
Donations made now will be used to defray the expenses of winding down our operations and instructional programs or as described above in the future.
On behalf of the thousands of adult literacy students and English Language Learners who have transformed their lives with your support, please accept our sincere thanks.

Click here to make a secure online donation today via our Go Fund Me Campaign – or here to donate via PayPal!


An Evening With Ruth Colvin


Join LiteracyCNY Founder Ruth Colvin by Zoom 7:00-8:00 PM. Mrs. Colvin will read excerpts from her Memoir, My Travels Through Life, Love and Literacy and will answer questions.

Registration is now closed.

2020 SCRABBLEMania Will Be Held on Friday January 31

Jan. 7, 2020

LiteracyCNY invites Central New York community members to compete in 10th annual SCRABBLEMania tournament

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – LiteracyCNY, a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting adult literacy, is hosting its 10th annual SCRABBLEMania tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. SCRABBLEMania is LiteracyCNY’s largest fundraiser and will support the organization’s programs. About 450 individuals are expected to attend the event, many of which will be playing on teams sponsored by Syracuse-area businesses and organizations.

“We are excited about the 10th annual SCRABBLEMania tournament being our biggest and best yet,” said Marsha L. Tait, LiteracyCNY’s Executive Director. “All proceeds will help provide Central New York adults with the literacy skills they need to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and become economically self-sufficient.”

“We learned about the SCRABBLEMania event through a United Way presentation two years ago and discovered that a group of us were interested in forming a team,” said Roni Carvalho, HealtheConnections Data Quality Manager and SCRABBLEMania team captain (HealtheConnections was named the 2018 and 2019 tournament grand champion). “It’s been a lot of fun for a good cause and we’ve enjoyed the competition among all the teams. We’re looking forward to a three-peat this year!”

Teams of eight to 10 players will compete against each other in the SCRABBLEMania Tournament to build the highest possible scoring SCRABBLE® board in three 25-minute rounds of play. Prizes will be awarded to each round’s champion, and one team will be named the tournament’s grand champion.

The tournament will take place in the Marriott Syracuse Downtown’s Finger Lakes Ballroom, while refreshments, entertainment and raffle prizes will be offered to players in the adjacent foyer, in the Cavalier Room and in the hotel’s lobby. The event additionally includes a live performance from internationally acclaimed jazz musician and six-time SAMMY award winner Ronnie Leigh, as well as the return of 93Q’s Ted and Amy as celebrity emcees.

New This year: a live auction featuring amazing experiences conducted by famed auctioneer Bernie Brzostek!

For inquiries about corporate sponsorships, tables and individual tickets, please contact LiteracyCNY at (315) 471-1300 x172. Event details and registration information are available 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 350 adult students last year and consistently exceeds its NYS Department of Education mandates. For more information, visit or contact


LiteracyCNY Elects New Board Members

For Immediate Release

July 22, 2019

Contact: Marsha L. Tait
315-471-1300 X171
LiteracyCNY Announces Appointment of New Board Members

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — On June 18, the LiteracyCNY Board of Directors appointed five new Board Members:

Mary Katherine Buckley, Audit Manager, Fust Charles Chambers
John Maas, Regional Director NYS, Office of the Attorney General
Caitlin Moriarty, Director of Membership, CenterStateCEO Tech Garden
Crystal Rhode, Marketing Coordinator, C&S Companies
Mike O’Shea, CPA and Tax Principal, Firley Moran

Buckley said, “Last fall I read an article in which I learned that Syracuse was in the top ten of US cities with the highest poverty rate. I was surprised by this statistic and wanted to help in some small way. I was drawn to LiteracyCNY as enhanced literacy can lead to improvements in many facets of a person’s life, including but not limited to their economic standing. Additionally, on a personal level reading has always been an important part of my life.”

O’Shea said, “I wanted to be a part of LiteracyCNY for two reasons. First, I have long known of the work of LiteracyCNY and consider it to be a great organization with an impressive history of helping people in Central New York. Second, I believe strongly in the importance of literacy and education when it comes to addressing the root causes of poverty. Through the work of LiteracyCNY, people learn the tools needed to break the cycle of poverty and, in turn, make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Newly elected Board President Bill Kriesel, Managing Member of Diversified Capital Management LLC, expressed enthusiasm for the new class of Board Members. Kriesel said, “The energy and backgrounds of the new board members will be a great addition to our organization. We have spent the last few years focusing on adding board members from all sectors, including business, government and academia. I think with these new members, our board now has a broad mix of expertise and experience, which will help us accomplish our mission.” Other newly-elected Officers are: Jon Mathews, Syracuse Marriott Downtown Hotel Manager, Vice President; Marlena Daher-Rahman, Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center Director of Community Engagement, Secretary; and Richard Sargent, Esquire, Treasurer.

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 350 adult students last year and consistently exceeds its NYS Department of Education mandates.

For more information, visit or contact

Kathy Houghton Appointed Executive Director of Literacy New York

The Board of Directors of Literacy New York announced on June 20, 2019 that longtime Program Services Director Kathy Houghton has been appointed as Executive Director.

LNY Board President Elizabeth Dailey expressed the Board’s support and excitement: “Literacy New York is in the most fortunate position of having a member of its current staff who is eminently qualified to become the new Executive Director. Kathy Houghton, who has been serving as Director of Program Services, has earned the respect of her colleagues state-wide as an outstanding administrator, trainer and collaborator. Kathy shared with the Board a very positive vision for Literacy New York and we are delighted that she has accepted the position.”

Holding a Master of Arts in English, Houghton came to Literacy New York in 2007 with a strong background in business and teaching. She has since received several national certifications as a trainer of adult educators. As Director of Program Services and then briefly as Interim Executive Director, Houghton has developed unique products such as distance learning for tutor training and provided mandated workshops to support the critical work of those who teach low literacy adults. She also created the organization’s first online tutor training program which continues to grow within the state and across the country.

Though it may not be widely known, New York State has a literacy problem. A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate–reading below the 5th grade level—lack a High School Diploma or cannot speak English…BUT fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.
This severely limits their access to jobs, college and citizenship and increases their vulnerability to living in poverty.

Literacy New York leads and supports adult literacy activities across the state by building the capacity of direct service providers—the places where the teaching and learning happens—supporting community based literacy programs, training volunteers, and providing professional development to teachers of adults.

“Building capacity and sustainability of the programs that serve New York State’s adult learners is at the core of Literacy New York. I am pleased to bring my experience and my personal commitment to the highest standards of accountability to my new position. I look forward to continuing to equip adult education providers in Building Literate Communities across New York State.”– Kathy Houghton

For more information, visit If you need help with your literacy, please call us at 716-651-0565.

Additional Information—Adult Literacy
Despite the significant role of literacy in today’s world, often little attention is paid to it. LNY raises public awareness about the need and impact of adult education in order to expand access to basic education programs for adults with low literacy skills.

Low literacy affects every area of life, in New York State, and throughout the U.S.
• 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
• 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
• 76% of adults on public assistance are illiterate or unable to read more than simple text
• Welfare recipients with the lowest literacy skills stay on welfare the longest
• 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
• 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

Consider the following facts on the National Impact of Literacy:
• People from low educated families are 10 times more likely to have low literacy skills.
• Better educated parents produce better educated children.
• Literacy education in adulthood is an important contributor to child success in pre-school. A mother’s reading level is the single greatest determinant of a child’s success.
• People with low skills are 4 times more likely to have poor health (twice the national average).
• Low literacy costs an estimated $230 billion in annual healthcare costs. Health Literacy programs can increase adults’ understanding of medical problems & save medical costs.
• Minimum wage workers increased wages by 18 to 25 $ within 18 months of exiting an adult ed program.
• Low literacy limits Americans’ civic engagement. Low literate adults are less likely to vote or join community groups.
From the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) and ProLiteracy