Tucson Literacy Programs Find Strength in Numbers
Five literacy organizations in Tucson, Arizona, have done something usually more common to the corporate world than to nonprofits—they’ve negotiated a merger.
Literacy for Life Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, Reach Out and Read Southern Arizona, Stories that Soar!, and Reading Seed are now Literacy Connects—and they’re hoping the sum of their parts will make them all the stronger as an important entity in their community.
The merger became legal in August and on October 1, the new organization held a rally at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in Tucson to announce its new name. The rally was also aimed at raising awareness for literacy. Participants were encouraged to wear plain-white T-shirts to show unity around literacy, to create a poster or to make one at the rally, and to bring a book to exchange or read.
Each of the five organizations continues to focus on a different part along the continuum of literacy so the merger does not duplicate services. Instead, the new organization allows all five to work together for a critical mass and to make a bigger difference collectively in Tucson.
“What our programs are doing in Tucson is visionary,” says David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “They are creating a national model I hope others will follow.”
The new organization may now be more attractive to individual donors who will have more “products” to choose from, and to foundations that may provide funds the organizations were ineligible for independently.
The merger will also benefit all of the organizations through volunteer recruitment and training. An increased number of people interested in volunteering is expected since the larger organization will offer a greater variety of services.
Betty Stauffer, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson's executive director, is now in charge of the larger agency. All previous organization directors work as program directors and continue their work. Stauffer will discuss her experience wiht the merger and financing issues at the USCAL public policy forum "Managing Mission and Money" on November 4 in Houston, Texas.
For more information about Literacy Connects, visit the Literacy Connects webiste or call (520) 882-8006.