Omaha Gives!

Mark your calendars! The Literacy Center will be participating in Omaha Gives 2017. The day of giving is set for May 24th. Check out the Literacy Center’s profile.

The Literacy Center educates over 500 adult students, with the support of 130 community volunteers, from the tri-county area with one-on-one tutoring and small classroom instruction in basic reading, English as a second language and GED. We are committed to empowering adults and families by helping them acquire the literacy skills and practices to be active and                                                                        contributing members of their communities.

2017 Open House and Student Celebration

The Literacy Center celebrated its 2017 Winter Open House and Student Celebration on Saturday, January 28. Students, volunteers, and community members all gathered to celebrate the Literacy Center’s new location, new CEO, and of course, the achievement of its students! Four students celebrated achieving their GEDs. Many other students received awards for categories such as Positive Attitude, Perfect Attendance, and Outstanding Achiever. Nine volunteers were also recognized for their dedication to teaching and literacy. To view all the pictures from the event, click here.

Linda Butkus will join the Literacy Center as new CEO

The Literacy Center is pleased to welcome Linda Butkus as its new CEO. Linda has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 33 years with experience in programming, administration, fund raising, staff and volunteer management, grant writing, outcomes, and risk management.

Linda’s top Gallup strengths are; Arranger, Achiever, Relator, Consistency, and Learner. She is highly organized, driven, open to new ideas, and supportive.  She has high expectations of herself as well as others and tends to be a very positive person.

“As your new CEO I am so excited to join you in supporting the mission of the Literacy Center for the Midlands. I look forward to meeting you, hearing your story, and beginning to map out our future together. Please introduce yourself when you are at the center.”

 

Torchlight Ball names Literacy Center as beneficiary

 

All About Omaha schedules 2016 Torchlight Ball and names Literacy IMG_1870Center as
beneficiary

Omaha, Neb. (March 7, 2016) – All About Omaha’s annual flagship charity event is scheduled for April 15th at the Scoular Ballroom downtown, beginning at 6pm.  The annual event has historically brought in over $240,000 for local charities, and this year, the Literacy Center for the Midlands was named sole beneficiary.  Dinner will be served and refreshments will be available to all attendees. Entertainment IMG_1825will also be provided along with a silent auction and a presentation from Omaha residents who have truly benefited from all the Literacy Center has to offer.

The name Torchlight Ball was selected to convey the image of “passing the torch” of charitable giving in the Omaha community to a new generation eager to make a difference.

Since its inception in 2002, AAO’s Torchlight Ball has raised more than $240,000 for local non-profit organizations including Completely KIDS, Youth Emergency Services, Winners Circle, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Teddy Bear Hollow, the SHARING Clinics, Social Settlement, Hospice House of Omaha, Nebraska Foundation for Visually Impaired Children, Mosaic Community Development Center Creative Education Program, Childcare Associates, D.R.E.A.M, the Methodist Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Program, and Memories for Kids.

Special thanks to The Scoular Company in conjunction with Attitude on Food in sponsoring this event.

Tickets, donations, and sponsorship information is available at www.AllAboutOmaha.org.  To learn more about the Literacy Center, please visit GiveLiteracy.org.

Literacy Center is the Featured Nonprofit in Best Places to Work in Omaha®

Baird Holm LLP Names Literacy Center as Featured Non-Profit for the Best Places to Work in Omaha®

 

Omaha, Neb. (April 29, 2015) – Baird Holm LLP, founder of the Best Places to Work in Omaha® initiative, along with its sponsor, the Greater Omaha Chamber, are pleased to announce Literacy Center has been named Featured Non-Profit for the Best Places to Work in Omaha.

 

Literacy Center is the third nonprofit organization to be featured at the Best Places to Work in Omaha awards luncheon since its inception in 2003. “Given Omaha’s extremely low unemployment rate, it is increasingly more difficult for employers to acquire talent and to retain great workers,” said Baird Holm partner, Scott S. Moore. “We chose to highlight Literacy Center at this year’s celebration because not only are they making an impact on the personal lives of people in the community, they are increasing the viability of those currently seeking employment.”

 

“In pursuing a career, literacy is the foundation upon which all other job skills are built,” said David Brown, President of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. “Omaha is continually vying for talent, and the Literacy Center and its volunteers equip individuals with the fundamental skills and confidence they need to gain meaningful employment.”

 

Founded in 1970, the Literacy Center provides free, one-on-one tutoring services to adults; small-classroom instruction; English as second language programming; and GED test preparation. Its mission centers upon helping its students acquire reading skills that will help them obtain a better job, get into the trades or continue their education. Executive Director Kirsten Case says the recognition is an honor and the timing couldn’t be better. “In the past five years, we’ve gone from serving 100 students to over 500. The Literacy Center is grateful to Baird Holm LLP and the Greater Omaha Chamber for highlighting this growing, crucial need in our community; literacy is central to creating and maintaining the strong workforce Omaha is known for.”

 

About Baird Holm LLP

Baird Holm LLP’s integrated team of more than 85 attorneys, licensed in 19 states, is committed to connecting each of its valued clients to the positive outcomes they seek. With extensive and diverse expertise, we leverage each other’s skills to respond efficiently to our clients’ local, regional, national and international legal needs.

 

Rooted by the promise to constantly evolve in anticipation of our clients’ rapidly changing needs, Baird Holm has enjoyed steady and measured growth since its founding in 1873. Today, Baird Holm attorneys look to the future as they carry on the legacy created by their visionary founders.

Learn more at www.bairdholm.com.

 

About Literacy Center

The Literacy Center works to empower adults and families by helping them acquire the literacy skills and practices to be active and contributing members of their communities. It serves over 500 students primarily though the assistance of volunteers, who lead 70 classes each week in adult basic education, English as a second language, GED preparation and computer literacy. A $1.5 million capital campaign is currently underway to secure funding for a new facility with adequate room to meet the growing needs of the Omaha community. For more information about the Literacy Center, visit GiveLiteracy.org.

 

$1.5M campaign launched

Campaign will help Literacy Center move to new space, make more room for learning

The Literacy Center of the Midlands has gone from serving about 90 students in 2010 to more than 500 in each of the past two years.

About 100 volunteers teach 60 classes a week preparing adults to take high-school deb and studentequivalency tests or teaching them basic literacy skills. In earlier days, only 20 weekly classes were available.

The center has experienced huge growth in the past few years, said Executive Director Kirsten Case.

The only thing that hasn’t grown is the center’s space.

That’s about to change. Center leaders recently launched a $1.5 million campaign to finance a move to the Cedarnole Plaza near 72nd and Dodge Streets. At 8,300 square feet on two levels, the new storefront space will be more than three times larger than either of the center’s previous two locations.

Click here to help today: www.giveliteracy.org/buildliteracy

“We need a better situation for the people we are serving,” Case said. “We’ve been the duct tape and classroomsuper glue place for a long time, and it’s not working.”

The Literacy Center currently occupies two rooms in an office building near 68th and Grover Streets. The 1,800-square-foot space houses 3½ classrooms, an office that holds three employees, and a study and gathering area. Several bookshelves are crammed in, but there’s no room for a library or for teachers to prepare.

The center moved there several months ago, after its lease ran out for a slightly larger space near 18th and Harney Streets. It had been in that location for about five years.

The space on 72nd Street previously held a Dollar General, a company whose corporate cause is adult literacy, Case said.

In the new location, the lower floor will be taken up by classrooms and a library. The smallest classroom there will be bigger than the largest classroom they’ve had in the past five years, Case said.

The library will be set up as a multipurpose area so students can move the furniture and collaborate. It also will have a computer lab.

Case called the top floor a “bonus” because the square footage is not included in the cost of the lease. It will house offices.

That means every cent of the facilities cost will go directly to benefit students, she said. Holland Basham Architects designed the layout for the Cedarnole building.

The fundraising campaign will pay not only for the new space but also for furnishings, equipment and staffing. Though the center has grown, the staff has not.

Case hopes to hire a volunteer coordinator and a student success coordinator who would work closely with clients to eliminate any barriers to success and help them plan for the future.

“We want to do whatever we can to give them the tools they need,” she said.

The center has experienced its growth without looking for students. Most clients come as referrals from welfare caseworkers, probation officers, nonprofit aid groups and other sources. Some are high school dropouts, some have reading deficiencies and some just need additional education to navigate daily life, Case said. They range in age from 18 to 80.

About 14 percent of the adults living in the metropolitan area — around 70,000 — are functionally illiterate.

Volunteer teachers come from various places as well. Some are retired educators, but that’s not required.

On a recent Wednesday, instructor Brenda Clark helped students prepare for the social studies portion of their high-school equivalency test. Five students, from their 20s well into middle age, sat at small tables in the tiny classroom.

They had to read part of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” written around the time of the Revolutionary War, and write a paragraph explaining what it meant.

Clark gave them tips to think analytically, then encouraged them to study further.

“When the dog doesn’t need to be walked, when the baby’s asleep, when you are at work and you get that 15-minute break, pull these out. Train your mind how to take this test,” Clark said.

Case hopes that scene will be replayed more often and with more people when the center moves. The new location will likely attract people who were unable to get downtown, she said.

She’s proud of the motivation and perseverance clients display, and she’s excited to offer them more.

“It’s amazing how focused students and teachers are even in crowded circumstances,” she said. “We need a proper facility to carry out our mission.”

By Betsie Freeman / World-Herald staff writer
Contact the writer: 402-444-1267, elizabeth.freeman@owh.com

Meet Rico

Rico was only 9 years old when his father left home and never came back.

His father wasn’t planning to abandon his family- he went to California in search of a better job, and a better life. He told Rico, the oldest, to take care of his seven siblings and his mother, who suffered with multiple sclerosis. Rico’s father intended to send for the family when he got settled, but that day never came.  He passed away unexpectedly, and Rico lost his father, his childhood and his future.Rico

Rico suddenly was the man of the family.  He had to learn to cook and help care for his brothers and sisters. Eventually, when his mother was blinded by the ravages of MS, caring for his family took precedence over everything – including school.

Literacy Center of the Midlands is a nonprofit dedicated to helping adults and families by providing free services to improve their reading abilities so they can do all the simple things we take for granted – such as reading to our children, understanding a doctor’s instructions, or comprehending a job application.

We need your help for people like Rico.  Your gift of $60, $100 or $200 will fund the General Education Diploma (GED) and Adult Education programs so our adult students can get a better education, a better job … and a better life.

Rico has spent his entire life taking care of others.  At 16, he fathered a baby and quit school in order to take a full time job as a dishwasher to support her.  He quickly worked his way up from dishwasher to cook, and discovered he truly enjoyed cooking.

With every job, Rico impressed his supervisors with his willingness to work hard, take on new challenges, and never complain.  He was frequently promoted, but without his high school diploma he always ended up hitting the same brick wall that prevented him from becoming the man he always dreamed of being.

Rico often held down two jobs to make ends meet, and wondered how he would ever get ahead.  The years passed, and so did his 50th birthday, but his dreams have never died.  He wanted to go to college, attend culinary school and become a chef. That’s when he discovered the Literacy Center.

The Literacy Center offered him free services, with volunteers who worked one-on-one with him and gave him the kind of encouragement that inspired, motivated and allowed him to believe his dream might come true.

Rico’s involvement in the General Education Diploma (GED) program has been a long and rewarding process. He has worked hard, and has passed all his tests except for the final one he will take in mid-November.

He is quick to credit his teachers and the Literacy Center for his success: “The Literacy Center helps older and younger people get to a better place in their lives.  Without education, you just have luck – and luck can run out.  No one can ever take your education away from you.”

Rico currently has some special motivation to pass his final GED test – his granddaughter will graduate next spring, and he is determined to win the race to their diplomas!

There are so many wonderful people like Rico that need YOUR help each and every year.  I hope you will consider making a gift today – an investment – to support the good work of the Literacy Center.  On behalf of the staff, board of directors, volunteers, and especially Rico, thank you for your support!

With gratitude,
Kirsten Case
Executive Director

P.S. If you would like to make  gift in honor of Rico or another special person, please do so by clicking here. Thank you!

Spelling Bee Buzzes for Literacy Center

 

Spelling Bee Buzzes for Literacy Center

Omaha-Neb.– A frolic through the dictionary gave the community a fun way to get involved in helping adults learn to read. The seventh annual Adult Spelling Bee, held October 17 at the Scott Conference Center, raised more than $22,000 for the Literacy Center.

Enthusiasm for words and spelling comes from the knowledge that words make life better, which is the motto of the Literacy Center, says Executive Director Kirsten Case.

“The Center helps hardworking people acquire the practical skills to make them more active and contributing members of our community,” Case says. “From reading a food label, to writing a check, to reading their mail, the Center does more than help people learn to read books. We help people lead better lives.”

Eight community and corporate teams of three adults each, tested their word-knowledge and spell-ability. While the competition was friendly, it was also fierce as the logophiles vied for trophies including:

  • Best of Hive – Omaha Public Library
  • Runner-up Best of Hive – First National Bank
  • Best Costume – The Exterminator’s
  • Best Team Spirit – First National Bank

The audience of over 140 included closet bibliophiles and philomaths, who took part in an audience spelling quiz.

Expert speller Grace Johanningsmeier, a semi finalist in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee contestant, was on hand to offer expert advice to the contestants.

Listening to every vowel and consonant was the panel of judges: Pat Billings – Executive Service Corps-NE, Cammy Watkins – Habitat for Humanity and Ellen Scott – The Bookworm.  They were joined by our expert pronouncer Chuck Johanningsmeier from University of Nebraska, Omaha and emcee John Heaston, publisher and editor for The Reader.

Honorary chair for the Spelling Bee was Kjirsten Finnegan former Literacy Center board member and founder of the Spelling Bee.

For more information about the Literacy Center: www.giveliteracy.org, 402.342.7323.
###

Literacy Center Receives $10,000 Grant From The Dollar General Literacy Foundation

 

This week, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded the Literacy Center a $10,000 grant to support adult literacy. “The Center helps hardworking people acquire the practical skills to make them more active and contributing members of our community,” Case says. “From reading a food label, to writing a check, to reading their mail, the Center does more than help people learn to read books. We help people lead better lives.”

“At Dollar General, we are passionate about our mission of Serving Others throughout the Dollar General Fdncommunities we serve,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “It’s exciting to see the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s outreach in action as we partner with organizations to further education and literacy and make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The Literacy Center educates over 500 adult students, with the support of nearly 100 community volunteers, from the tri-county area with one-on-one tutoring and small classroom instruction in basic reading, English as a second language and GED. We are committed to empowering adults and families by helping them acquire the literacy skills and practices to be active and contributing members of their communities.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $92 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than five million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education.

About Literacy Center
The Literacy Center works to empower adults and families by helping them acquire the literacy skills and practices to be active and contributing members of their communities.  For more information about the Literacy Center, contact Kirsten Case at (402) 342-7323 or visit GiveLiteracy.org.

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education as part of the company’s mission of Serving Others for over 20 years.  Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $92 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than five million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education. For more information about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and its grant programs, visit www.dgliteracy.org.