ProLiteracy, the oldest and largest membership organization in the United States dedicated to advancing the cause of adult literacy and basic education, will inaugurate its new headquarters in the Near West Side neighborhood of the City of Syracuse on September 7. Also housed in the new headquarters is ProLiteracy’s publishing division, New Readers Press.
“Syracuse is proud to have a leading nonprofit like ProLiteracy headquartered here in our community,” says Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “They show they can be a force for change across the globe as well as be a committed community partner right here on the Near West Side.”
"ProLiteracy's board of directors made this decision to move our headquarters in order to invest in the future of the organization and in the member programs and adult learners we serve here and around the world," says Kevin Morgan, chair of the ProLiteracy board.
"Today, ProLiteracy has never been stronger as we work to support our 1,250 local, national, and global member programs who serve more than 350,000 adult learners throughout the U.S. and around the world," says David C. Harvey, president and CEO. "We are grateful to the Central New York community of donors, foundations, and companies, and to our national donors who made our move possible.”
ProLiteracy joined with Syracuse University's SALT District (Syracuse Arts, Literacy & Technology District) and the Near Westside Initiative to make the new headquarters a reality. The green renovated headquarters was constructed in a 100-year-old empty warehouse that was originally a factory in the early 1900s. ProLiteracy will lease the new headquarters space from the Near Westside Initiative. WCNY, Central New York’s public broadcasting station, is also relocating to the building, and new joint projects with WCNY are planned for the coming years.
"ProLiteracy's bold and smart move to the former Case Supply warehouse represents one of the signature steps forward for the revitalization of the Near West Side,” says Marilyn Higgins, vice president of community engagement at Syracuse University. “The Near West Side Board, Syracuse University, and all of our residents and partners are thrilled to have the nation's premiere literacy organization as a new neighbor.”
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to address guests at the grand opening ceremony, along with John Dau, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan featured in the award-winning documentary God Grew Tired of Us. The ceremony will feature the unveiling of new multimedia teaching tools and a new website, in addition to remarks by national and local leaders.
In honor of ProLiteracy’s co-founders, formally unveiled will be the Ruth J. Colvin Center for Innovation and Excellence in Adult Literacy, the Frank C. Laubach International Programs, and the Robert S. Laubach New Readers Press.
The grand opening celebration carries over to September 8, which marks International Literacy Day, started in 1967 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). September 8 events include health and digital literacy sessions, refreshments and entertainment, a local literacy fair, and recognition of literacy programs around the world.
Background on ProLiteracy’s New Headquarters
- The 20,000-square-foot space will be LEED certified and features an open atrium design in its entry that includes a two floor library stack system. As a space that is designed to foster education and learning for its staff, teachers and tutors, and adult learners, the stacks embody ProLiteracy's mission. Featured in the stacks are books, educational displays, and interactive digital monitors.
- The modern, open industrial design of ProLiteracy's new headquarters features green workstations, multiple conference rooms that utilize some of the latest technology, private offices with glass walls, and the CEO's office located in the middle of the office with glass windows, promoting the organization's values of openness, transparency, and innovation.
- A new research and demonstration center named after a ProLiteracy co-founder is The Ruth J. Colvin Center for Innovation and Excellence in Adult Literacy. The Center, which will house ProLiteracy's local programming, will be a place for ProLiteracy and local partners to pilot initiatives, conduct research, and develop resources with national and international significance.
- ProLiteracy’s publishing division, New Readers Press, has been renamed the Robert S. Laubach New Readers Press, after its founder. The 42-year-old nonprofit publisher of 150 instructional titles will work closely with new partners to innovate in digital publishing.
- The Frank C. Laubach International Programs, also named after a co-founder, will be able to conduct global virtual conferences and is expanding its work in advocacy and training, and is building networks on the ground in 34 developing countries.
- The headquarters was designed by King & King and Koning Eizenberg Architects and constructed by Rich and Gardner. Total construction costs were approximately $2.1 million, paid for by the Near Westside Initiative. ProLiteracy has signed a 10-year lease for the space and raised more than $1 million in a capital fund campaign from local and national donors to support the purchase of furniture, new high-tech equipment, and to support new local programming activities.