Board Handbook - ProLiteracy Education Network

SEPTEMBER 1, 2009 – AUGUST 31, 2010
Table of Contents
Welcome Letter
About Literacy Partners
Adult Illiteracy: The Facts
Literacy Partners Talking Points
Mission/ Definition of Illiteracy/ Leadership in Adult Literacy
Programs and Services
Adult Literacy Education Centers
Board of Directors
Standing Committees
External Affairs
Board of Directors List
Board Terms
Strategic Plan
Key Staff Directory
Organizational Chart
Approved Annual Budget
Board Meeting Dates
Directors and Officers Liability Insurance
Welcome to the Board
Whether you are a veteran or are new to the Board of Directors, you undoubtedly know
that in accepting a seat on this Board, you are taking on an important responsibility –
important not only to Literacy Partners, but very important to the agency, and the
clientele we serve.
Our governing Board is charged with:
Seeing that the organization achieves its stated purpose
Making and approving policies and plans
Raising and managing the organization’s funds
Employing the staff
Evaluating the performance of the executive director
Serving on committees and attending Board Meetings
Providing leadership and governance
This handbook will assist you in your orientation and we ask that you keep it current by
adding meeting agenda, minutes, strategic plans and other relevant materials that are
distributed during the course of the year. From time to time, we will also forward
updated Board member and staff contact lists.
As always, we embrace recommendations that would enhance the Board Handbook’s
This Board Handbook is confidential and should not be shared with individuals other
than Literacy Partners Board Members and relevant staff.
Distributed: July 17, 2009
About Literacy Partners, Inc.
Literacy Partners has taught New Yorkers to read and write since 1973. The nonprofit offers
free classes for adults and families, from basic reading to advanced instruction.
In 2007-08, over 2,000 adult New Yorkers came to Literacy Partners to improve their lives by
learning to read. On their first day, four in five students could not read a map,
understand a medical prescription or interpret their child’s report card.
Literacy Partners classes meet two to four times a week, in three-hour sessions.
 Basic Education: Classes guide adults from first to fourth grade reading level in
reading, writing and math. The majority of Literacy Partners students begin in this
Pre-GED: Lessons in reading, math, social sciences and financial and health literacy
take students from a fifth through eighth grade level of instruction.
GED - Preparation by our instructors for the GED includes: social studies, science, math,
writing, literature and the arts. Once students reach the appropriate skill level, as
assessed by the GED Predictor Test, we schedule the GED examination.
English as a Second Language: Adults from around the world learn to read and write in
English. In Family Literacy classes, parents practice conversational English with
Literacy Partners teachers and tutors while their children attend Head Start.
Literacy Partners regularly assesses academic progress and also encourages students to set
individual goals. In 2008, students achieved the following personal milestones:
 93 percent of students say their children saw them reading
 82 percent now read a daily newspaper
 82 percent can now read to their children
 70 percent obtained a library card
Six learning centers, located in Manhattan and the Bronx
For more than three decades, Literacy Partners has taught over 25,000 New Yorkers to read.
In 2006, the organization became, and remains, New York City’s only nationally accredited
adult literacy program.
Susan A. McLean, Executive Director
Over 150 New Yorkers volunteer to lead classes and assist certified Literacy Partners
teachers. Each dedicated volunteer completes 20 hours of comprehensive training.
Literacy Partners receives funding from the New York State Education Department as well as
from individual, corporate and foundation donors.
Lauren Banyar Reich,, 212-871-3020 ext. 115
*Sources: 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy; 2003 New York State Assessment of Adult Literacy.
Adult Illiteracy: The Facts
At least 30 million U.S. adults are illiterate and cannot function effectively in society.
In New York State, statistics show that one in five adults is functionally illiterate.
What is “functional illiteracy?”
The U.S. Department of Education defines functional illiteracy as not being able to
understand basic written documents or perform simple calculations. For example, those who
are functionally illiterate struggle to:
Follow instructions on a medical prescription
Locate a street on a map
Complete an ATM deposit
Interpret a child’s report card
Without literacy… parents can’t serve as role models for their children’s education
Children with illiterate parents are more likely to drop out of high school and receive lower
grades than children with literate parents
25% percent of people aged 16 and older cannot read a bedtime story to their youngsters
Without literacy… workers can’t function at their full potential
Adult low literacy costs American businesses more than $60 billion each year in lost
productivity and engenders health and safety issues
Nearly half of U.S. manufacturers surveyed in 2005 said their employees’ low literacy skills
damaged the companies’ ability to serve customers and compete globally
Without literacy… sick people can’t get the medical care they need
Adult low literacy costs taxpayers at least $106 billion each year due to frequent Emergency
Room visits, longer hospital stays and extended critical care, among other health issues
Older people with poor literacy skills have a 50 percent higher mortality rate than adequate
readers do, in part due to a lack of understanding of medical advice and prescription
instructions and an inability to access health care
Without literacy… the poor do not have access to better jobs
Adults who cannot read are more likely to remain in poverty and resort to unemployment
benefits, food stamps, and other taxpayer-supported assistance programs
Over half of full-time workers with no high school diploma live below the poverty line
Literacy Partners Talking Points
Literacy is about more than reading books. It means being able to use written words to
function in society, achieve one’s goals and develop one’s potential.
Imagine what it would be like to not be able to read. It’s almost incomprehensible. You
read everything you see, without even trying. For people who can’t read, every sign is a
frustration and a reminder of their own shortcomings.
There is an enormous need for adult literacy programs in New York. Literacy Partners
teaches over 2,000 students a year. But for every adult student taught in New York City,
tens of thousands more remain in need of services.
Literacy Partners is the most experienced and effective literacy program in New
York. The only nationally accredited program in the City, we have been teaching New
Yorkers to read since 1973.
It only takes $1,000 to teach one adult for a year. This amount funds 160 days of quality
classroom instruction as well as all overhead and administrative costs.
Every dollar invested in Literacy Partners benefits the community 33 times over. A
$1 investment will return an estimated $33 to the community through additional tax
income, more employment, less crime, reduced welfare payments and less need for child
Literacy Partners staff members work with nearly 150 highly trained volunteers.
Approximately 85% of these volunteers are tutors who receive in-depth and ongoing
specialized training and work directly with students, under the supervision of classroom
Literacy Partners, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, provides free community-based
adult and family literacy programs to ensure that all adults have the access to quality
education needed to fully realize their potential as individuals, parents, and citizens.
Definition of Illiteracy
An illiterate individual is someone who does not have the ability to read, write, and speak
proficiently, to compute and solve problems, to use technology preventing him/her from
becoming effective in the family, in the workplace, and in the community.
Leadership in Adult Literacy
Literacy Partners, Inc., founded in 1973 as Literacy Volunteers of New York City, has
provided free, basic instruction in reading and writing to more than 35,000 adult learners.
As the only nationally accredited adult literacy programs in New York City, Literacy
Partners was the pioneer in creating a formal training program for volunteer tutors to
work successfully with students. Today we employ a core group of teachers, over one
hundred trained volunteers and serve over 2,000 students annually in several locations
city-wide. We operate programs on a continuous improvement model and regularly meet
and exceed the accepted New York State learning standards.
Programs and Services
Students and the Referral Process
Our students come to us most often through referrals from numerous community based
organizations with whom we have partnered. On-going enrollment enables us to assign students
continuously throughout the year. When a student calls, he/she is invited to attend an
orientation, followed by placement in an appropriate program based on reading skills, schedule,
and geographic proximity. Students must commit to attending class at least twice a week for
three-hour periods.
To refer someone to Literacy Partners, simply give our phone number or assist him or her in
making the call (212-725-9700).
Core Program Offerings
Literacy Partners offers a full range of programs that teach adults to read, write, and do basic
Adult Basic Education (ABE): With reading levels of 0.0 to 5.0, ABE enrolls the majority of
our student body. Small student groups are taught by certified teachers and/or trained volunteer
tutors. Classes convene for a minimum of two mornings, afternoons or evenings per week in
three hour sessions. Adult students are placed in ABE based on their reading scores achieved on
standardized tests. Students also explore health literacy, financial literacy, and engage in a
variety of employment preparation activities. Upon the completion of their ABE course work,
students are re-tested for learning gains. The Pre-GED program is the next step for our students.
Pre-GED: Adult students are places in Pre-GED based on their test scores. Students must score
between a 5th and 8th grade reading level. Building on the skills learned in ABE, the curriculum
instructs students in reading, writing, numeracy, social studies, science, financial literacy,
health literacy and employment preparation. Students engage in classwork a minimum of two
mornings, afternoons, or evenings per week for three hours.
GED: The GED preparation classes are teacher-led. All necessary subjects are taught for the
GED exam: social studies, science, math, writing, literature, and the arts. Once the student has
reached the appropriate skill level and passed the Official GED Predictor Test, he or she is
referred to the GED exam. Upon successfully passing the exam, the student receives a New
York State High School Equivalency Diploma.
Programs and Services (continued)
ESOL: Students are taught speaking, listening, writing, reading, and grammatical structures in
the English language. Each teacher-led, student-centered class works together four mornings or
afternoons per week in three-hour sessions. Students from all across the world attend classes that
are taught exclusively in English.
Family Literacy/ESOL: Family Literacy/ESOL strengthens low-income families, particularly
those led by single mothers, through the power of reading and writing. Our Family
Literacy/ESOL program is based on the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Literacy model.
Parents attend classes while their children participate in Head Start. Each teacher led class with
tutor assistance focuses on ESOL, parenting concerns, and skills necessary for daily living. A
portion of class instruction is conducted in a computer lab. Parents and children also learn
together in child centered activities.
Contextualized Program Components
To complement our core programs, Literacy Partners has developed three initiatives to help
students develop the knowledge and skills needed to access information, gain employment and
achieve financial self-sufficiency.
These contextualized offerings include:
Financial Literacy: This program enables students to implement appropriate decision making
skills and use them to become wise and knowledgeable consumers, savers, investors, users of
credit, money managers, citizens and members of a global workforce.
Literacy Works: This component focuses on employment and job readiness skills such as
introducing computer training, job search strategies, and steps toward job retention.
Health Literacy: This program provides students with the ability to read, understand and act
upon health related information. With this knowledge our students can make informed decisions
and take appropriate actions to protect and promote their health.
Literacy Partners is committed to providing the best possible services to our students by hiring the
most qualified instructors. Professional educators are present at all of our locations to teach classes
and/or to supervise the daily operations of our on-site programs, which vary from smaller teacherled classes to adult learner groups tutored by volunteers at our larger centers. Our teachers help
students stay on target. Literacy Partners long-standing commitment to assessment and outcomes is
agency-wide, and we rely on our teachers’ abilities to effectively evaluate and document student
progress and program efficacy.
As important as our teams of highly qualified teachers are, we also rely on dedicated and welltrained volunteer tutors. Tutors and teacher assistants are given comprehensive training geared to
meet the specific teaching and problem-solving needs of each program, while other volunteers
choose to welcome and test new students. Upon completion of an application, orientation, and
training, volunteers are assigned to one of our centers and are expected to make a commitment of at
least one day a week for one year to a maximum of three years.
Adult Literacy Education Centers
Pre-Enrollment Program Testing and Assessment (PEP)
PEP is the first experience a new adult student has with Literacy Partners. It is a two-session
assessment and orientation program co-led by Literacy Partners staff and volunteer intake
counselors. Students learn about Literacy Partners, its programs, locations, policies and required
commitments. They also hear from volunteer tutors and volunteer students about their
experiences. Potential students are pre-tested and assessed in both writing and reading. Upon
completion of PEP, a student is referred directly to a Learning Center if he/she qualifies for
Literacy Partners programs (If someone is identified as severely learning disabled, they are
referred to a program that will more closely meet their needs.)
PEP operates year-round and takes place at Colgate-Palmolive, 300 Park Avenue.
Tutorial Learning Centers
Literacy Partners core activity is its tutorial program. Adults, 16 years of age and older,
participate in classes at our learning centers. We offer instruction in basic skills from beginners to
approximately 8th grade levels.
Currently, the following tutorial centers are in operation:
New York Life, 27 East 27th Street – Evening – ABE
Learning Leaders, 80 Maiden Lane – Evening – ABE
Time, Inc., 1271 Avenue of the Americas – Evening – Pre-GED
At the centers, groups of 10-12 students work with 2 trained volunteer tutors. Our tutor training is
a comprehensive three-week course (twice-weekly classes), providing a foundation in Literacy
Partners educational philosophy, group dynamics and teaching techniques. Part of the tutor
training involves current volunteers as mentors. Tutors are supported at centers by Literacy
Partners professional staff through on-going supervision and in-service training sessions during
the year.
Family Literacy/ESOL
Family Literacy/ESOL meets mornings and afternoons, Monday through Thursday at:
Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCO), Urban
Horizons – Southeast Bronx
Adult Literacy Education Centers (continued)
Funded through a grant from the NY State Education Department, Literacy Partners provides
teacher-led classes offering instruction in basic skills for beginners through GED level.
Instruction is led by a professional teacher. Students are supported by an education and
employment counselor.
Currently, there are five locations offering four different levels of instruction. All centers are
located in Harlem, focusing on the local Workforce Investment Area. Offerings are as follows:
Oberia Dempsey Center: 127 W. 127th Street, Room 410 - ABE
Sonny Sloan Literacy Center: 30 East 33rd Street, ESOL
WHEDCO: 50 East 168th Street (Bronx) Afternoons - ESOL
Board of Directors
The Literacy Partners Board of Directors:
 Makes policy and planning decisions, is responsible for sound fiscal practices and overall
guidance and management of the organization.
 Promotes a community of understanding of, and support for, Literacy Partners working in
conjunction with Literacy Partners Executive Director and senior staff.
 Raises and manages the organization’s fund.
Board members are elected for a three-year term and are eligible for renewal of terms.
Board Member Responsibilities
Accept fiduciary responsibility for the organization’s resources, programs and goals. This
is a high level responsibility, much like that imposed upon trustees of a trust.
Attend Board meetings and actively participate in decision-making. Board meetings are
held each quarter. Board members are requested to attend a minimum of three meetings
per year.
Observe the “Give or Get” policy adopted by the Board of Directors:
The Board of Literacy Partners has determined a Give/Get Policy of a
minimum of $10,000 annually (July 1 – June 30 of the following year) for
Board Membership.
This amount may consist of any combination of gifts to the Board Member
Annual Fund, program, special events, gala tickets/table or additional
opportunities as they arise.
As part of the Give/Get requirement, each member is asked to make a personal
contribution to the Board Member Annual Fund. It is of great benefit and
importance to be able to report to our funders that 100% of our Board
Members have made a personal gift to Literacy Partners.
Each year Board Members are encouraged to increase their personal
contribution to the Board Member Annual Fund.
Serve actively on at least one committee and attend its meetings.
Visit at least one learning center and observe the program in operation.
Support the annual gala, “Evening of Readings.”
Participate in recommending new Board candidates who will bring skills in areas of
fundraising, management, image, development of resources, and community awareness.
Standing Committees:
September 2009 – August 2010
Board Nominating Committee
Purpose: To build and strengthen Board leadership by:
1. Identifying and interviewing the nominee to serve as the next Board Chairperson and
other executive officers
2. Evaluating and developing the incumbent Board
3. Identifying and interviewing potential new Board Members
4. Assigning committee work for all Board members
5. Prepare the slate for electing new Board Members and for the annual election of officers.
Staff: Executive Director, Development
Communications and Public Relations Committee
Purpose: To develop and monitor the annual communications and public relations campaign to
enhance brand recognition and increase public awareness relative to the goals of fundraising,
student, and volunteer recruitment. Oversees the external public relations team.
Staff: Executive Director, Development
Executive Committee
Purpose: To exercise, with certain limitations, as indicated in the by-laws, the powers of the
Board of Directors in the management of the organization between the Board’s quarterly
meetings. The Executive Board consists of the officers of the organization (other than the
Assistant Secretary) and up to four additional members of the Board appointed by the Chairman.
XXXXXXX, Vice President
XXXXXXX, Treasurer
XXXXXXX, Secretary
Staff: Executive Director, Director of Finance and Human Resources, Development
Finance/Endowment, Planned Giving/Gift Acceptance, and General Administration
Purpose: To review and evaluate the financial position of the organization including investments,
revenue and expenses. To work with senior staff to create and maintain sound financial practices.
The management and oversight of the Liz Smith Endowment is an integral function of this
committee. The committee also provides direction for the development, maintenance, and growth
of planned giving. As well, to advise the Board on the internal matters of administration such as
real estate and major capital purchases.
Staff: Executive Director, Director of Finance and Human Resources
Program/Long Range Strategic Planning Committee
The Committee consists of a minimum of three members of the Board of Directors. The
Committee Chair is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. The
administrative team of the education department, the executive director, and senior staff are
members of this committee. The Chair may invite additional Board and Non-Board Members to
participate, as necessary.
Purpose: To initiate, produce, review, oversee and/or evaluate activities and services providing
education for participants of adult literacy services offered by Literacy Partners. The Committee
will advise the Board on programs and services as well as direction and requirements necessary to
offer sound educational programs.
Long Range Strategic Plan: The Committee will oversee the development and monitor progress
made against the Long Range Strategic Plan as adopted by the Board of Directors at the Annual
Meeting. The Plan defines the strategic goals of the organization over a three year period. The
Committee works in concert with all other Committees to develop the Strategic Plan for adoption
by the full Board.
Staff: Executive Director, Director of Education, Associate Director of Educational Accountability
Fund Development Task Force Committee
Purpose: The committee is charged with overseeing the planning and implementing Literacy
Partners total development program. The development committee is a standing committee of the
Board of Directors, as provided for in the by-laws, and is staffed by Literacy Partners
professional fundraising staff. The committee provides leadership around fundraising and serves
as the mechanism by which Board Members and other volunteers are involved in the fundraising
The development committee is charged with focusing Literacy Partners and its Board of Directors
on essential elements of the fundraising process as well as advocating for resources necessary to
accomplish fundraising goals. This includes constant attention to the current strength of Literacy
Partners mission and case for support, focusing upon ways in which the organization makes itself
accountable to its constituencies, understanding the resources required for carrying out the
Literacy Partners mission, providing leadership to Literacy Partners in raising funds, and
demonstrating good stewardship of the funds received.
Staff: Executive Director, Development
Ad Hoc Committee
Literacy Associates
Literacy Associates was created to diversify and expand Literacy Partners donor constituency
base to include a younger population and raise funds from additional sources for the organization.
The Literacy Associates Committee is made up of and targets a well-established group of
business people ages 25-45. This group has significant influence and success in their fields of
business or corporation and will spread the word to friends, co-workers and family members
about the work of Literacy Partners and our fundraising needs.
Short term goal: To establish a working committee to create Literacy Associates events and reach
a younger demographic of supporters for Literacy Partners.
Long term goal: Expand funding sources for Literacy Partners and create a group of supporters
that will be the future leaders of the organization.
* XXXXXXX, Co-chair
* XXXXXXX, Co-chair
Staff: Executive Director, Development
*Non Board Members serving on committees
External Affairs
The External Affairs Department is responsible for development and communications,
 Fundraising (individual, corporate, foundation, and government)
 Marketing and Communications
 Public Relations/Public Awareness
 Gift and Pledge Processing/Reporting
Raised Revenue
Individual, corporate and foundation fundraising is the responsibility of the External Affairs
Department. This includes the necessary support and follow-up for solicitations conducted by
Board members. Encompassing the annual fund, the Liz Smith Endowment and special projects,
fundraising appeals take the form of written and personal solicitations. The Director of External
Affairs works with the Executive Director, Finance Chair, Fund Development Chair, and
Communications Chair throughout the entire year.
In view of the constantly increasing revenue needs of the organization, the Department of
External Affairs seeks, at all times, new funding leads through the personal and professional
contacts of the members of the Board of Directors.
Endowment – The Liz Smith Endowment
This fund, with an initial goal of $5,000,000, was created to recognize Liz Smith’s leadership and
advocacy in the field of adult literacy for the purpose of ensuring the continuing work of Literacy
Partners. One of the country’s most influential and admired syndicated columnists, Liz Smith has
served as a Board Member of Literacy Partners since 1979. In 1993, Ms. Smith became the Board
Chair and in 1999, she was named Honorary Chairman. Ms. Smith continues to work tirelessly
for Literacy Partners, giving generously of her time, energy, and wisdom. Her consistent and
enthusiastic support for literacy has been significant.
The Department of External Affairs is responsible for developing all printed and display materials
appearing with the name and logo of Literacy Partners. These include newsletters, brochures,
annual reports, videos, public service announcements, fundraising materials, website, and
invitations. This function seeks to enhance brand recognition and increase public awareness. It is
the responsibility of the Department of External Affairs to generate promotional materials that
represent Literacy Partners mission and achievements professionally, appropriately, and
Special Events
In addition to the annual Gala, other events take place throughout the year on either an annual or
ad hoc basis with fundraising and/or public awareness as the primary goal. All, with the exception
of the student celebrations, which are managed by the Education Department, fall within the
purview of the Department of External Affairs.
Literacy Partners publishes a donor newsletter. Titled “Update,” its purpose is to maintain an ongoing dialogue with Literacy Partners contributors, and the Writers for Readers. As a
communications tool on behalf of the organization, the newsletter is also included in all press
packets, information requests, and a copy accompanies all funding requests to foundations. The
newsletter is also mailed to Literacy Partners volunteers, community partners and leaders in the
adult literacy field.
Annual Report
The purpose of the report is to apprise donors of the organization’s progress and achievements
throughout the most recent fiscal year, financially and programmatically, and it serves as a means
to acknowledge the contributions of all who have made a gift within that year with the exception
of those who request to remain anonymous. The Annual Report accompanies all foundation grant
The website can be viewed at
Public Service Announcements (PSA’s)
Free radio and television announcements, created by Literacy Partners, have become increasingly
important student and volunteer recruitment vehicles. PSA’s are aired by stations on a very select
basis. We are always eager to uncover new station contacts to increase our chances of visibility.