VIN’S PEOPLE: Unsung Project Light marks 25th anniversary with education award [as printed]

ByVin Mannix


Posted Apr 26, 2020 at 12:03 AM

April has been a landmark month for Project Light of Manatee, which has been quietly doing yeoman’s work helping English language learners in our community for years.

The nonprofit just marked its 25th anniversary.

It was also honored with the Florida Literacy Coalition’s 2020 Excellence In Education Award.

“We’re moving in the right direction and people who are advocates of literacy and family literacy all think we’re doing the right stuff. That means a lot,” said Charles Cunningham, Project Light’s board chairman. “We are probably the finest nonprofit in Bradenton nobody’s ever heard about.”

Quartered in a humble Bradenton storefront at 1104 14th St. W., it is powered by a devoted volunteer-based staff led by tireless program director Elena Farkas, who “redid the curriculum so it meets what students need,” Cunningham said.

Besides English language courses, that would include computer courses, writing classes and citizenship test preparation as well as a social service roadmap for students to get jobs, apartments, childcare, transportation and more.

“Services that help them so they can become a greater part of the community,” Cunningham said.

Project Light’s current enrollment is around 250 students with plans to expand to 300 next year.

“The last two years we’ve experienced a big increase in student population, so we realized we had to step it up,” he said. “We’re doing some real good stuff, but we appreciate more funding and we need people to know we’re there.”

Want to help? Call 941-745-1659 or 907-227-5514. Or email:

Project Light thanks Vin Mannix and the Herald Tribune for featuring our organization and impact in Vin's People. We are honored to serve our community and look forward to what the next 25 years brings. With much gratitude to our local papers for keeping us connected during this difficult time.