Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County and Literacy Volunteers of Niagara County are pleased to now function as one strong, united organization, Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, Inc. The merger was finalized in July 2012, at which time we proudly became the region’s sole provider of free adult and children’s literacy services.
These services are particularly vital to improving the quality of life in Erie and Niagara Counties, as 30% of residents are functionally illiterate, or read at or below a 5th grade level. Our programs are conducted in areas of concentrated poverty, with 33% of families living on incomes less than $15,000 per year, and 46% under $20,000 per year. In addition, we serve the growing population of recently relocated refugees and immigrants in the area who may not speak or read English, or who may not have had any formal education in their native countries.
Furthermore, our programs address the various social, economic, and educational issues of our clients. We strive to break the crippling cycle of intergenerational illiteracy and poverty in Western New York, in an effort to combat social ills, improve the local economy and achieve higher education objectives. Simply put, Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara changes lives, word by word.
Our notable accomplishments directly impact and improve the quality of life in Western New York; a more literate population leads to a more qualified workforce, which, in turn, leads to economic self-sufficiency. Our accomplishments include:
- Cornerstone Manor Program- a literacy tutoring program for women in Buffalo who have sought shelter with their children and are part of a two-year residency recovery program at Cornerstone Manor, a homeless shelter operated by the Buffalo City Mission.
- Madonna House Program- a literacy tutoring program in Niagara County for women who are drug and/or alcohol dependent.
- After School Tutoring programs for school-aged children have more than doubled in size and have expanded into Western New York suburbs.
- Tutoring programs at the East Ferry Youth Detention Facility and the Niagara County Jail
Board of Directors
The Boards of Directors of the Erie and Niagara County chapters were intimately involved in the decision making and merger processes. Both are committed and have merged into one board, as well.
Moving forward, the volunteer Board of Directors of Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara will be a combination of members from the Erie and Niagara County boards, with two (2) new members representing each county. Board meetings, which are held monthly from September through June, will rotate between our headquarters in downtown Buffalo and our satellite offices in Lockport and Niagara Falls.
The merger, and the formation of a regionally diverse but unified Board of Directors has undoubtedly created a stronger organization, and it will continue to chart the strategic direction of the agency, including a renewed focus on serving the residents of Niagara Falls. To this extent, we have partnered with Family and Children’s Services, and opened an office in their new facility on Main Street in Niagara Falls. The board will also concentrate on leveraging funding opportunities in Niagara County which have not been utilized by the current organization.
Furthermore, the newly formed Board of Directors will explore new opportunities to serve those Western New York residents who are most in need to truly improve the lives of all residents on the Niagara Frontier, including those who have recently been released prisoners, and those in need of math and/or financial literacy skills