Although the Lutheran Settlement House lost about $374,000 in state funding for its 30-year-old Community Education and Employment Department, newly found funding will keep a restructured literacy program alive.
The Settlement House, at 1340 Frankford Ave., was left reeling, as many adult-education institutions were, after an announcement of significant cuts to the state budget.
In fact, education initiatives across Pennsylvania had seen budgetary spending for programs and services drop by more than $1 billion.
According to Arianna Hall-Reinhard, coordinator of the LSH adult literacy tutoring program, as much as 75 percent of adult education programs statewide had to shut down after the cuts were made.
LSH realized that, to survive, the literacy program had to change, she added. “We’ve redesigned the program,” the coordinator said.
Working with a team of volunteers — some from the community, some of them students from St. Joseph’s University — LSH found a way to still provide adult education at a fraction of the cost.
But, said Hall-Reinhard, it wasn’t easy.
“We really had to think outside the box,” she said. “We’ve been working really, really hard to get the funding we need.”
Last week, LSH received a check for $10,000 from Verizon’s charitable arm, the Verizon Foundation, to help continue the adult education initiatives.
The Verizon Foundation supports non-profit organizations and works with local legislators and residents to help out where it can.
But that wasn’t the only funding to come LHS’s way. Hall-Reinhard said there has been $15,000 from the Fels Foundation, $40,000 from a family foundation that requested anonymity, and $2,000 from Beneficial Bank.
On March 22, state Reps. Curtis Thomas (D-181st dist.) and Michael O’Brien (D-175th dist.) visited LHS to celebrate the new funding.
“It’s hard to keep money for education,” said Thomas.
At times in Harrisburg, a legislator who tries to ensure that state funds are allocated for educational services can feel like a “voice in the wilderness,” he said, because education doesn’t seem to get enough attention at that level.
“Education should be a priority,” the lawmaker said.
O’Brien agreed, saying that in this economic environment, local legislators need to seek out alternative forms of funding when possible. ••
Managing editor Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215-354-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org