LSH finds a way

After los­ing thou­sands be­cause of cuts in state fund­ing, the Luther­an Set­tle­ment House found oth­er ways to con­tin­ue its adult edu­ca­tion pro­grams.

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  hmit­ 

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