Wow, it’s been a while since we could make the time to put together a newsletter. I know it is important to stay in touch with all of you. Since I last wrote, we have done so much! This “mini” Syllabus is a quick read to catch you up on some of the big news here at LSW. We plan to put together the next full size Syllabus newsletter in early summer.

Some of you may remember when I wrote you last year about the $100,000 endowment fund challenge grant from the Rita Stevens family. They challenged us to raise $100,000 to earn another $100,000 in matching funds to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Well guess what? WE DID IT! As the deadline approached in late December, we received the last $15,000 we needed to succeed! Thank you to all of the 53 donors who contributed to the first addition to our endowment fund in a dozen years or more. LSW is in a stronger position as we start our next 50 years.

So what else have we been up to?

I met with the tutors in each of our programs to share our 2015 organizational impact report and to listen to ideas, issues and concerns from each amazing group. We heard great insight and feedback! Many of the ideas generated are already being implemented. For example, in the ABE tutor meeting there was an interest in voter education. We held a voter registration and information session to help people understand the new voter ID law and determine their individual steps to participate in the elections this year.

We hosted our Volunteer Celebration in February to appreciate more than 400 volunteers who contributed 28,000 hours of service in 2015. We completed our 2015 financial audit in March and learned that our systems and processes met the expectations of the audit professionals. We had a strong year! If you are interested in seeing this public document, let me know and we will get you a copy.

We participated in something called the Service Enterprise Initiative over the last three months. This training program through The Nonprofit Center is a comprehensive program to evaluate and improve volunteer engagement. Watch for exciting new volunteer opportunities in the coming months!

January marked the beginning of my third year here at Literacy Services. In two years, I have learned so much more about our community, the many and complex needs we face in these changing times, and the layered ways in which LSW has contributed to filling those needs over 50 years. Now is the time for us to set our course for the next three years. We will be forming our strategies and goals along with creating a plan to realize them. Stay tuned for ways to get involved in setting our course.

Thanks to the encouragement from some of our tutors, I applied for a scholarship from the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin to attend a week long program this summer call Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. This competitive scholarship program attracts nonprofit leaders from all parts of our region. I am humbled to tell you that I have been selected as one of two leaders to participate this year. The timing could not be better for LSW!

Mary Tobin, a board member since 2011 and Treasurer from 2012-2014, took the reins from Dave Hanson as our new Board President. Dave Hanson continues to provide guidance and wisdom in his capacity as Past President. Becky Grandone, Director of Finance, is moving on to start her own nonprofit consulting practice. We are so grateful for her leadership over the last two years!

Yes, we have been doing a lot, but it all pales in comparison to what our students have been accomplishing. Lashana is pretty much a superhero in my book. She is a mom of three daughters, works full time, and recently earned her GED. Her dedication and concentration were recognized at our Spring Honors Celebration. After receiving her award, she reflected on her motivation behind working so hard:

1-img_3078“If you want better for your kids, you’ve got to do better for yourself.” 

Lashana is just one of the many students honored at our Spring Honors Celebration. The goals accomplished within these walls are transforming. Whether our students are earning their GEDs, reading a complete novel, or becoming a United States citizen, they remind us to do better for ourselves.

Take a look for yourself below. I hope you find it inspiring.

Quarterly Awards Celebration

There is no better way to understand the profound impact of Literacy Services than to listen to the heartfelt testimony of the students we serve. You have an opportunity every quarter to celebrate student victories and hear first-hand why the work we do is so important. Save the date - our next Quarterly Honors Celebration will be on Tuesday, July 12th at noon. For now, please enjoy some snapshots from our last celebration.

Tiny Updates Big News

Adult Basic Education
  • Arthur is in the process of starting a business; something he never had the confidence to attempt before.
  • James has begun studying for his commercial driver’s license and feels confident that he will pass it because of his improved reading skills.
  • Johnny reports “better money management” habits as a result of his learning at LSW.
English Language Learning
  • Myunghee has passed the nursing exam which enables her to work here as a registered nurse. She has a doctorate of nursing from South Korea.
  • Danielle, who worked as a tutor with us last year, is now teaching English in Vietnam.
  • Misael completed his studies in ELL and is now taking classes in GED.
GED Preparation
  • LSW GED alumnus Charles is in the last semester of a business degree.
  • LSW GED alumnus Shanette has finished a two year dental program at MATC and has transferred to UW-Milwaukee to pursue pre-med.
  • Shortly after finishing his GED, Matt (featured above) got a job fueling planes at Mitchell International Airport.
Thank you for making lives better!

You’re Amazing!

Low-literacy skills, a lack of high school diploma, and difficulty communicating in English leave too many people and their families without the education and skills they need to succeed. But thanks to your generosity, we are able to connect volunteer tutors and undereducated adults. These unique learning partnerships empower students to develop the skills they need to achieve their highest possible success!
The achievements celebrated inside are a testament to you and the generosity of hundreds of people like you. With each adult who learns to read, earns a GED or learns to speak English, a positive ripple effect is set in motion improving the lives of children, families and neighborhoods that will last for generations! From all of us at Literacy Services, thank you!

Ginger Duiven

Executive Director