25 Years
Blog

Seeds of Literacy Celebrates 25th Anniversary with $25k Challenge

Cleveland, OH, August 25, 2022 — This year, Seeds of Literacy (Seeds), an award-winning adult literacy organization, celebrates 25 years of empowering adults to thrive in our community. Seeds offers free, one-to-one tutoring in basic education and high school equivalency preparation (GED®/HiSET®) to adult learners in Northeast Ohio and beyond.

In recognition of Seeds celebrating this milestone, a long-time supporter has pledged $25,000 for a donation challenge. The donor will match, dollar for dollar, all new and increased contributions between now and the end of Seeds’ anniversary year (June 30, 2023), up to $25,000. The potential $50,000 will support Seeds of Literacy’s general operating funds.

THE NEED FOR OPERATING SUPPORT

“Each year, we raise our budget starting from scratch, without any guaranteed funding,” said Bonnie Entler, President & CEO of Seeds of Literacy since 2003. 

“Since 1997, 65% of state-funded adult literacy programs have closed, and federally funded adult basic education programs are serving 36% fewer students,” she explained, adding that those numbers were before the pandemic shuttered the doors of even more programs nationwide. 

“Incredibly, while other programs were closing, sometimes for good, Seeds was growing,” said Vice President of Programming Dr. Carmine Stewart. She explained that although Seeds temporarily closed physical classrooms at the start of the pandemic, it quickly opened a Virtual Classroom to continue serving its students in Northeast Ohio. 

 “Unexpectedly, students from all over the U.S. (and several other countries) signed up, stating there were no other programs like Seeds where they lived,” she said. “The vast majority of our students are local to Cleveland, and students in our local community will remain our focus and priority, but we were happy to welcome students and tutors from almost every state, as well as half a dozen countries.”

25 YEARS OF FIGHTING ILLITERACY

For Seeds of Literacy, 25 years of working to break the cycle of poverty through education means:

  • Tutoring nearly 11,000 adult students during almost 400,000 classroom hours
  • More than 1,500 volunteers donating their time, valued at over $3.9 million
  • Raising the grade levels of 7,500 adult students
  • Graduating over 600 students with a GED or other high school equivalency credential.  (Note: Prior to 2014 we did not have access to firsthand completion data).  

Founded by the Sisters of  the Congregation of St. Joseph (CSJ), Seeds has grown from its grassroots beginnings in church basements across Cleveland to become the only nationally accredited literacy organization in Ohio, and an independent nonprofit with two physical locations and a virtual presence worldwide.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone,” says Entler. “Educating nearly 11,000  adult learners throughout this time has been such an honor. This year, we will spotlight inspiring stories of our students, graduates, volunteers, and donors – everyone who has made this accomplishment possible. And we are so grateful to our founders for starting Seeds as a ministry to break the cycle of poverty through education.”

Sister Kathleen Kilbane, CSJ, and Founding Director of Seeds of Literacy, said in an interview in 2017: “I had the privilege of steering Seeds through its first six years, and I have since watched it grow and develop into the largest community-based adult literacy program in the county. It did so without ever losing sight of the founding mission of serving with love and compassion. The staff, volunteers and students are all one in their desire to empower or be empowered. My prayer is that it will continue to grow, flourish and help more students move toward a better life.”

For a detailed history of Seeds including all of its important milestones, view the timeline here. 

In addition to the Donor Challenge, Seeds is celebrating this special anniversary year with a variety of fund-and-friend-raising events, including Thrive! on November 4, honoring literacy champion and Seeds alumna Margo Hudson. 

Learn more about Seeds’ history, student success stories, and how you can get involved: www.seedofliteracy.org/25years

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