ProLiteracy

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ProLiteracy, also known as ProLiteracy Worldwide, is an international nonprofit organization that supports literacy programs that help adults learn to read and write.[1][2] Based in Syracuse (New York),[3] ProLiteracy has over 800 member programs in the U.S. and works with 21 partners in 35 developing countries.[4][5]

History[edit]

Ruth Johnson Colvin with President George W. Bush receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

ProLiteracy was formed when Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. merged in 2002.

Laubach Literacy International’s history began in 1930, when Dr. Frank C. Laubach, missionary among the Maranao people of the Philippines, began teaching the people of Mindanao to read and write in their own language.[6] From 1935 to 1967, Dr. Laubach visited 105 countries answering calls for literacy help and created reading lessons in 315 languages. He founded Laubach Literacy International in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1955.

Literacy Volunteers of America was founded in 1962 by Ruth Johnson Colvin, who developed a means to train volunteers to tutor adults.[7][8]

Overview[edit]

ProLiteracy’s work falls into three categories: programs, publishing, and development.

ProLiteracy's Programs division works in the U.S. and abroad. ProLiteracy has grassroots partner programs in developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. ProLiteracy provides training, technical assistance, and targeted local grants to support tailored programs that combine literacy with economic self-reliance, health, education, peace, human rights, and environmental sustainability projects.

In the U.S., ProLiteracy represents over 800 community-based volunteer and adult basic education affiliates in 49 states and the District of Columbia. ProLiteracy supports member programs with technical assistance and program and professional development services online, in regional trainings, and at a biennial conference. ProLiteracy advocates for issues related to adult literacy and lifelong learning.[9]

New Readers Press, ProLiteracy’s publishing house, generates $7.5 million in revenue annually through the sale of materials used in adult basic education, high school equivalency test preparation, and English language learning.[10] Proceeds from these sales support the services that ProLiteracy offers to literacy practitioners. News for You®, published by New Readers Press, is a weekly online and print news source for English language learners and basic literacy students.

ProLiteracy sustains its operations through revenue generated from fee for services and contributions through donations and grants. A fee for service structure allows ProLiteracy to generate revenue by requesting or requiring payment in exchange for services and products. Contributions include individual donations, bequests, and endowments. Grants are generated through corporate and private foundations.

Funding[edit]

About 77 percent of ProLiteracy’s funding comes from sales of its educational materials. About 15 percent comes from private sources, including individuals, corporations, and foundations. The remainder comes from affiliate dues and investment income. In 1997, author Nora Roberts donated damages awarded from a plagiarism lawsuit to the organization.[11]

In 2020, more than 77 percent of donor contributions were allocated to program expenses.[12]

Accountability Standards[edit]

  • Charity Watch graded ProLiteracy with a B+ in 2020 and labeled ProLiteracy as a Top-Rated charity. [13]
  • ProLiteracy earned a GuideStar's Platinum Seal of Transparency in 2019 by voluntarily sharing the measures of progress and results they use to pursue their mission.[14]
  • Charity Navigator gave ProLiteracy a score of 88.7 out of 100 based on the data from FY2019 as reported on its most recent 990 filed with the IRS.[15]
  • A 2017 report by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) found that ProLiteracy met all of its standards for charity accountability. The WGA found that ProLiteracy is truthful in its representations of how money is spent, does not allocate an excessive part of its budget for fundraising or administrative expenses, and makes its financial statements readily available to the public.

Financial crisis and recovery[edit]

ProLiteracy began in a strong financial position after the merging of Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc in 2002. Through a K-12 publishing investment that was not successful, several corporate donors shifting their philanthropic focus, and the 2008 recession, the organization was forced to develop a new strategic plan in 2013.

From 2009 to 2013, under then-President and CEO David C. Harvey, ProLiteracy faced severe financial issues, with a $1.8 million shortfall and a $1.7 million loss in net assets in 2012.[16] Moving their headquarters to a revitalized warehouse and investing in the local Syracuse, NY community were contributing factors in the shortfall, including its newly-opened Ruth J. Colvin Center for Innovation and Excellence in Adult Literacy, a public computer lab designed to teach adults computer literacy.[17]

Six months after the move to ProLiteracy's new headquarters, Harvey resigned as President. Current CEO, Kevin J. Morgan, then Chairman of the Board of Directors since 2009, stated that Harvey "went on to pursue other opportunities in the Washington, D.C., area, and let's leave it at that," "The good news is that David worked for ProLiteracy for five years and did a lot of great things for the organization."[18] Despite likely being a significant contributing factor to the financial mismanagement leading to the crisis, Harvey himself purported to have "Led a turn-around operation for a $9 million international organization" during said pursuit of "other opportunities in the Washington, D.C., area".[19] Harvey has been the Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors since 2016.[20]

Morgan, who received his graduate degree in marketing from Keller Graduate School of Management, was appointed Interim President and CEO,[21] dividing his time between ProLiteracy and Full Suspension Marketing, a small, Utah-based startup and marketing agency he founded in 2007.[22][23][24] The ProLiteracy Board of Directors then "formed a search committee for a new president and CEO," said Morgan, concluding that "sometimes it happens quickly, other times it may take some time, depending on who you talk to".[25]

Despite raising over $1 million in charitable donations to refurbish ProLiteracy's new headquarters in the midst of the crisis, it faced a shortfall of $1.2 million in 2013, receiving a 1-star rating on Charity Navigator following nearly a decade of fluctuating between 1- and 3-stars, prompting Harvey's 2010 public criticism of the charity watchdog as an "imperfect way to assess".[26][27][28]

During the following fiscal year, ProLiteracy downsized considerably, laying off several of its full-time staff and shutting down budding investments into the local Syracuse, NY community.[29] Furthermore, ProLiteracy reduced its international involvement from 30 to 20 countries.[30][31] In effect, ProLiteracy ended its 2014 fiscal year with $3 million in revenues less expenses and nearly double their net assets, from $3.3 to $6.3 million.[32] The search committee dissolved, as did Morgan's marketing agency, and he remains President and CEO to this day.[33] In 2017, ProLiteracy was awarded its first 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, a composite of a 3-star rating in financial health and 4-star rating in accountability and transparency.[34]

Awards[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hines, Michael (15 Mar 2018). "How 8 Chicago companies are using tech to do social good". builtinchicago.org. BuiltIn. Retrieved 27 Dec 2019.
  2. ^ "For This Year's July 4th Consider Volunteering Your Time With Organizations Meant To Help Migrants And Dreamers". Mitú. Mitú, Inc. 1 Jul 2019. Retrieved 27 Dec 2019.
  3. ^ "2010-2019: the decade downtown Syracuse turned the corner (Editorial)". syracuse.com. syracuse.com. 22 Dec 2019. Retrieved 27 Dec 2019.
  4. ^ ProLiteracy: Get Involved. "ProLiteracy Member Organizations"
  5. ^ ProLiteracy: What We Do. "International Programs"
  6. ^ "Laubach, Frank Charles (1884-1970) | History of Missiology". www.bu.edu. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  7. ^ "Ruth J. Colvin". Proliteracy.org. 2010. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
  8. ^ Russo, Jennifer (12 Dec 2016). "Literacy Pioneer Ruth Colvin Turns 100". Syracuse University News. Syracuse, NY, USA. Retrieved 18 Feb 2018.
  9. ^ "ProLiteracy's New Advocacy Toolkit Is the Critical Resource Adult Education and Literacy Programs Need Now". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  10. ^ "Financials | ProLiteracy". www.proliteracy.org. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  11. ^ Italie, Hillel (24 Apr 2019). "Nora Roberts sues Brazilian author, cites 'multi-plagiarism'". ABC News. Retrieved 27 Dec 2019.
  12. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for ProLiteracy". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  13. ^ "ProLiteracy Worldwide". www.charitywatch.org. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  14. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for ProLiteracy". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  15. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for ProLiteracy". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  16. ^ ProLiteracy (05 Sep 2015) About Us: Finances. "Form 990, 2013"
  17. ^ Nolan, Maureen (28 May 2012). Syracuse.com. "ProLiteracy moves into new digs on Syracuse's Near West Side"
  18. ^ Charles, Ellis (30 Nov 2012). Syracuse.com. "ProLiteracy CEO leaves; chairman of the board named interim director"
  19. ^ Harvey, David C. (28 May 2013). Blogspot.com. "David C. Harvey: Seeking Interim Executive Positions, Consultancies"
  20. ^ National Coalition of STD Directors (2018). "Our Staff"
  21. ^ "Kevin Morgan Linkedin Profile". Linkedin.
  22. ^ LinkedIn (2018). "Kevin Morgan, President and CEO at ProLiteracy Worldwide"
  23. ^ UtahDB. "Full Suspension Marketing"
  24. ^ Utah's Right to Know. "Utah's Largest Employers"
  25. ^ Charles, Ellis (30 Nov 2012). ibid.
  26. ^ Salt District (11 Jul 2012). "ProLiteracy Moves to Case Supply"
  27. ^ Charity Navigator (2018). "Historical Records for ProLiteracy"
  28. ^ Harvey, David C. (31 Oct 2010). Syracuse Post-Standard. "New York, Post-Standard endorsements, United Way, Charity Navigator, ProLiteracy"
  29. ^ LinkedIn (2018). "ProLiteracy Worldwide"
  30. ^ Harvey, David C. (01 Apr 2012). Syracuse Post-Standard. "Ubuntu on the Near West Side: 'Literacy for Social Change' comes home to Syracuse"
  31. ^ ProLiteracy: What We Do. "International Programs"
  32. ^ ProLiteracy (05 Sep 2015). About Us: Finances. "Form 990, 2013"
  33. ^ ProLiteracy (2018). "About Us: Leadership"
  34. ^ Charity Navigator (2018). "Rating for ProLiteracy"
  35. ^ XPRIZE. "WINNERS ANNOUNCED IN ADULT LITERACY XPRIZE COMPETITION". XPRIZE. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  36. ^ "Library of Congress Announces Winners of 2019 Literacy Awards". Fine Books Magazine. 2019. Retrieved 22 Dec 2019.
  37. ^ "2018 Winners | Library of Congress Literacy Awards | Read.gov - Library of Congress". www.read.gov. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  38. ^ "CAPES Awards Reflect Service to Community". SU News. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  39. ^ "CenterState CEO Celebrates 2015 Economic Champions". CenterState CEO. Retrieved 2021-01-12.