Educational Institutions

Literacy Council of St Marys County Inc

Quick Facts

Lexington Park, MD

Mission

The mission of the Literacy Council of St. Mary's is to provide one-on-one and individualized tutoring to English Speaking and non-English speaking adults, 18 years of age or older, who request help with basic reading and writing skills, basic math and other appropriate self-identified goals.

Ruling Year

1985

President, Board of Directors

MS. Bernadette Lewis

Vice President, Board of Directors

Ms Linda Perrygo

Main Address

21677 Fdr Blvd Lexington Park Library

Lexington Park, MD 20653 USA

Keywords

Adult Literacy

EIN

52-1414273

 Number

1422689785

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Employment Training (J22)

Ethnic/Immigrant Services (P84)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Adult Literacy

Where we work

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

The Literacy Council of St. Mary's is firmly committed to achieving its overarching goal based upon a unique society-building business plan that has no known competitors. In order to remain solvent, however, the goal of seeking support via well-justified grants, has become paramount.

The Board of Directors of Literacy Council of St. Mary's has embarked on a search for potential grants that can offer sustaining funds. It may also be beneficial to consider short-term program grants that do not have sustainment tails, in so far as they can help build longer-term sustainment strategies. Thus, grants that provide short-term limited overhead to help build fundraising capacity, raise community awareness, provide means of identifying clients and potential tutors and otherwise build the overall Literacy program in accordance with the established business plan are reasonable considerations. Some grantors, however, offer grants that provide sustaining funds. Such grants, even if only for material and operational offsets, are desirable in the short term, to prevent further drain of reserve funds.

Thus the FY17 (2016-2017) objective is to raise at least $6,000 through a portfolio of successful grant requests targeted at unrestricted funds. To the extent that non-sustaining grants can provide additional overhead for establishing long-term sustainment practices, such grants shall be thoughtfully considered and sought as well.

Once such non-sustaining grant is of particular interest. 7.6 percent of adults in St. Mary's County are illiterate, defined as lacking basic prose skills, according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. This equates to 6,351 individuals above the age of 18 based on the 2014 Census estimate. While the Literacy Council of St. Mary's works on referrals, the total population in need of Literacy Council services and the demographics of this population is not well understood in this community. This lack of knowledge has a bearing on tutor recruitment and service delivery beyond the relatively stable rate enjoyed over the past decade. In short, a demand study of illiteracy is important to a strong economic development stance.

County Funds: The most valuable asset the Literacy Council possesses is its talent. The Paid part-time administrator is a dedicated and loyal worker who truly cares for both her tutors and her clients. Her $13K part time salary supports a combined volunteer effort valued at over $110K based upon the accepted Maryland hourly rate for volunteer service of $24.41. This equates to a nearly 88% amplification of service labor on the basis of the existence of a single part time individual. The full $10K of annual county funds have consistently gone towards maintaining this salary in 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 and will continue to do so in FY 2017-2018. This makes for a 91% amplification rate in the availability of “free" labor as a direct function of the County's investment. This represents a significant return on a relatively small investment.

Collaboration: The Literacy Council works closely with the St. Mary's County Library. In fact, the Literacy Council is permanently based at the Lexington Park Library in a room donated by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park. The St. Mary's County Detention Center is a primary referral partner. Some tutors actually operate within the Detention Center. The Literacy Council also receives referrals from a host of Social Service agencies, such as the and the Judy Center, non-profit organizations, such as Walden and Pathways, and businesses throughout the County. Transportation agencies such as the St. Mary's Health Department and STS Medical Transport offer help to get lower income students to tutoring sessions. Some tutors were referred by the Office on Aging. The literacy council maintains an ongoing relationship and liaison with the Adult Education program formerly at at St. Mary's County Public Schools but now the College of Southern Maryland (CSM). The Adult Education mission is complementary to, but utterly different than the Literacy Council. The Literacy Council also has outreach initiatives to the CSM and St. Mary's College of Maryland. The Literacy Council of St. Mary's did participate in classes offered by the CSM Non-Profit Institute, although the scope of useful offerings was limited by a personnel transition period in 2015-2016. The Literacy Council was also active in the Vital Community Connectors which helped focus increased managerial visibility on the importance of non-profits as potential outsource opportunities to reduce the cost of Government, while encouraging continued Board of County Commissioner leadership in assessing demand signals upon which to base informed allocation decisions.

Changes to Programs and Services: Operating against a solid business plan with proven success, the Literacy Council intends to “stay the course" it has set for itself. Given the potential demographic of clients, including a growing ESL base, however, it may become desirable to slowly expand the tutor base over-time to reach a broader base of potential students.

Functions and Objectives: The Literacy Council of St. Mary's relies on volunteers both to help English speaking adults with fundamental reading, comprehension, writing, and basic math skills and to help non-English proficient, often of foreign origin students to master English as a second language.

Organizational Structure: The Literacy Council of St. Mary's is governed by a Board of Directors made up of eight interested volunteer citizens. This Board maintains one paid part-time administrator who both recruits, trains and supports up to 75 volunteer tutors and screens and qualifies new students into the literacy program.

Performance Measures: Literacy is a personal thing. Because of this, quantification of literacy tutoring results often runs headlong into privacy concerns. Thus, the most effective way to report literacy results is, unfortunately, through anecdotal observation. Some of the stories, however, are striking in terms of economic contribution:

• One student, started from a true down and out situation as a bitter Walden referral, has become employed, is now a qualified ambulance driver and is studying to become Emergency Medical Service (EMS) certified.

• One non-English proficient student, possessing a PhD in Pharmacology from Japan, has learned English and is employed as a highly paid professional.

• Two non-English proficient students, part of a group of wives of aviators from Brazil attached to the the Patuxent River, Naval Air Station, were able to obtain Maryland driver's licenses, thus better assimilating into the culture.

• One former non-English proficient student established a successful Mexican Restaurant in the northern portion of St. Mary's County. All non-English proficient employees are encouraged to participate in Literacy Council tutoring.

• One significant employer in Wildewood frequently refers non-English proficient employees to the Literacy Council.

These, and many other stories highlight some significant trends.

1. The number of individuals needing English as a Second Language (ESL) training has grown significantly in St. Mary's County over the recent decade. While this tracks well with national trends, the local finding is revealing. Not all St. Mary's ESL candidates start at the bottom the social/economic spectrum. Many are highly educated and potentially highly productive St. Mary's citizens once they gain sufficient reading and writing proficiency. As the Literacy Council is not bound to accept students only from certain economic strata, the organization can and does offer valuable services to well-educated individuals who need only to become proficient in English language skills to add value. Interestingly, in 2016, the Literacy Council of St. Mary's tutored students originally from Brazil, El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Italy, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Cameroon.

2. One-on-one tutoring in English proficiency produces good citizens. While hard tax numbers are difficult, if not impossible to obtain in aggregate, it is quite reasonable to estimate that the increased tax base generated from successful Literacy Council students well offsets the modest investment provided by St. Mary's County in productive part-time labor to organize literacy tutoring encounters. This represents a rough measure of a Return on Investment.

3. Literacy breeds pride. Self image is significantly bolstered through literacy tutoring, making individuals less vulnerable to failure, while measurably adding to earning potential.

These stories and the trends they reflect uphold the overarching goal of the Literacy Council of St. Mary's to help sustain the economic status of St. Mary's County through providing essential English proficiency skills to individuals. The other supportive objectives dealing with fundraising defined above have already been quantified for performance within their respective descriptions.

External Reviews

Financials

Literacy Council of St Marys County Inc

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

No

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

No

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Yes