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September is National Literacy Month and as a nonprofit that helps adult immigrants in America reach necessary English literacy levels to find jobs, improve family life and integrate into society we feel it is our duty to bring some awareness to this issue.



In the United States, 43 million adults cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level. This has an impact not only on individuals but on our country as a whole.


Economy



“Bringing all adults to the equivalent of a sixth-grade reading level would generate an additional $2.2 trillion in annual income for the country.”








Health costs



“It is estimated between $106–$238 billion in health care costs a year are linked to low adult literacy skills.”



Social Impact


“75% of state incarcerated individuals did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.”

“Incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education programs are 43% less likely to recidivate than inmates who do not.1”




English language learners make up 53% of the immigrant population and at this moment less than 10% of these individuals are receiving services. With 50% of ProLiteracy member programs putting their students on a waiting list due to demand exceeding program capacity.


What is being done



"In 2021 148,170 students were served by member organizations with 82,085 instructors/volunteers providing services to students. "


"Using Independent Sector’s value of volunteer time ($28.54/hour), volunteers donated nearly $55 MILLION worth of time in adult literacy programs nationally. This equates to $74,000 per program."







Student benefits:


8,289 Got a job or a better job.

25,052 Improved employability skills.

13,508 Increased involvement in children’s educational activities.

10,696 Improved wellness and healthy lifestyle.


What you can do locally


In Manatee county, 1 in 5 adults cannot read above a 5th grade level. Project Light Of Manatee helps adults in Manatee County by offering English classes, computer classes and citizenship classes.


We are always welcoming new volunteer teachers, click here to learn how you can join our team.


If volunteering your time is not a possibility we are also accepting donations directly (click here) or through the Flanzer Foundation which will match your donation (click here).








References:


1. Adult Literacy in the United States. (2019, July). https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019179.pdf.

2. ProLiteracy Annual Statistical Report. (2021, January). https://www.proliteracy.org/Resources/Media-Kit/Brochures/Statistical-Report.

3. Rothwell, J. (2020, September). Assessing the Economic Gains of Eradicating Illiteracy Nationally and Regionally in the United States. Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. https://www.barbarabush.org/new-economic-study/.

4. Vernon, J. A., Trujillo, A., Rosenbaum, S. & DeBuono, B. (2007, October). Low health literacy: Implications for national health policy. Health Sciences Research Commons. Washington, DC: George Washington University. Retrieved from http://hsrc.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/sphhs_policy_facpubs/172/

Bubbles, Beats & Bites- A Night To Remember
 

When Paul, the owner at Art Avenue On Palm made the offer to host a fundraiser event at his beautiful art gallery in Downtown Sarasota we knew we couldn't turn it down. There was one catch, we only had about three months to organize this whole event.

After multiple board meetings, discussing our options, the risks, and the benefits, we finally decided to bite the bullet. That is how Bubbles, Beats & Bites- An International Art Experience was born, we wanted to offer people an opportunity to interact with different cultures through music, art, wine, and food.


(Paul, owner at Art Avenue On Palm surprised us with his violin skills.)










Planning an event in only three months was no easy task, from food to wine to entertainment to silent and live auction items, sponsors etc. our board members had some serious work to do. With some group effort, we managed to make the impossible happen, and with this occasion Project Light would like to thank the following board members for bringing this vision to life: Cheryl Evans (Vice President & Strategic Committee Marketing), Elena Farkas (Executive Director), Charlie Cunningham (Board President), Pamela Steen (Secretary) and Sue Birell (Strategic Committee).

On the evening of December 3rd, we all put on our holiday best and arrived at the venue early. Some Project Light students so gracefully volunteered their time to help at the event. We would like to extend our gratitude to Luis, Silkia, Gendry, and Elvia for helping our guests have the best time.



As 6 pm came around, bubbles and wine started flowing and the sound of the baby grand piano filled the room as our guests were checking in at the entrance. After some drinks provided by Sarasota Wine Co. and appetizers provided by Kojo, it was time to bring out the entertainment.

All the way from DC, international Opera sensations Olga Orlovskaya and Peter Slutsky accompanied by Tatiana Loisha on piano, proceeded to delight our senses with an unforgettable performance.

But the entertainment would not have been complete without a performance from our very own talented students. Magdala Ulysse, Junior Clerge & Drusille Alcide delighted us with some traditional Haitian music.


As our silent auction table was flooding with guests looking to get their names on the lists it was time to proceed with our coveted live auction art piece.

The 38X48 painting "Reflection" was donated by the artist and former Project Light board member Richard Monteleone. The imposing art piece was auctioned for $1.300.



As the evening was coming to an end it was time to announce the winner of the 50/50 raffle. The anticipation was high as we dug through the pile of tickets for the lucky winner who was none other than the sister of long-time teacher volunteer Deborah Thomas.

We are very grateful to Johncyna A. McRae for donating all her winnings to Project Light, so we can continue our vision.






Project Light Of Manatee would like to thank every single one of our guests who purchased tickets, participated in the auction, bought drinks and raffle tickets. All proceeds go towards our goal of closing the literacy gap and empowering adult immigrants to integrate into society and pursue their American dream!


A special thank you to our sponsor Sensenig Law Firm.

“Reflection”

An Art Piece By Richard Monteleone



Richard Monteleone is a retired college professor, working visual artist, former Vice President for Project Light of Manatee, Inc., Ambassador for Ringling Museum of Art, and the Artistic Director of The Community Center for The Arts, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of The Arts, Philadelphia, PA., and a four-year Certificate of Fine Arts from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.


Project Light is honored to present Richard’s art piece “Reflection” at our First Annual Winter Fundraiser Event, “Bubbles, Beats & Bites” on December 3rd as our main live auction item.


“Reflection” By Richard Monteleone (Size 38x48”)


Coming from a family of immigrants himself, “Reflection” is a visual representation of his and his family's experience of seeking a better life in a different country all the while trying to overcome a language and cultural barrier.



“I am of Italian and Polish heritage. My family came to America in 1917 via Ellis Island. Like all families that dreamed of a better life, my ancestors worked hard to learn the language and secure a job. My family did not have a resource like Project Light. It was vital for them to create a new culture; culture and family life filled with freedom, creativity, expansion, and pride.”


“The painting “Reflection” illustrates this experience through an abstract/non-objective level. The fragmented face, with an open mouth and sectioned head, represents the possibility of the contribution of my family’s voice and thoughts integrated into a new homeland. The circles in close proximity represent the infinity, wholeness, totality, cyclic, and presence of a god. The colors are subtle gestures, and an overall kind and conscious narrative of a moment in time when all was well in the world.


This piece is vintage and originally created over 27 years ago. I kept this piece in my own personal gallery for this time because of its meaning and legacy. I am finally willing to let it go, to enter the progress of yet another American dream for the students, staff, board, and community for Project Light. “


You may acquire this art piece by participating in our live auction at our event “Bubbles, Beats & Bites” on Dec 3rd from 6-8 PM to take place at Art Avenue On Palm, 1289 N.Palm Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236.

Purchase tickets by clicking here.