The Impact of United Way Changes on ESLC

A note from the Executive Director

As you may know, funding for non-profits shift based on community needs, the preferences of donors and economic factors. After the recession leading up to 2008, East Side Learning Center (ESLC) was fortunate to receive United Way funding, which allowed us to expand to serve more children.

ESLC’s grant from United Way was through the Reading by Third Grade program. The program has traditionally been funded through corporate United Way campaigns. Increasingly, employees are designating their gifts to specific nonprofits. This reduces the amount of discretionary funding available for program.

United Way notified us recently that they are cutting the Reading by Third Grade program due to the lack of discretionary funding. This affects many tutoring programs, including ESLC. As of December 31, 2017, ESLC will no longer receive funding from United Way. We are thankful for their years of support as well as for the transitional funding being made available. 

The impact on ESLC children

United Way funding equals about a third of our budget- over $200,000. If we cannot raise enough funds, we will be faced with cuts in program services to our children. Thankfully, we do not foresee needing to cut a third of our services to make up for the loss of one third of our budget.

For several years, we have been focusing on early prevention more than intervention wherever possible. Prevention is more efficient than intervention. We have found that “catching up” children earlier results in greater literacy gains, reduces the need for further tutoring, and prevents children from becoming frustrated as they struggle to keep up with their peers.

With our continuing emphasis on prevention, we are hopeful that the reduction in students served may be smaller than a full one-third of our 350+ students. With a third of our budget cut, we may still be able to tutor as many as 280 to 290 students during the academic year. The board of directors and staff are committed to serving as many children as possible while maintaining high-quality tutoring services. We will hold steady on our model because it’s efficient.

Finally, we are going to continue services at all five sites and our two Summer Literacy Camps aimed at reducing the summer slide. The elementary school staff made it clear to us that we are needed at their sites. We are committed to meeting those needs.

Ways we can raise money- together!

ESLC already runs a very tight ship. We have very few opportunities to cut costs. Now, we must focus even more on building a culture of philanthropy at ESLC. Gratefully, some help will come from a full-time VISTA from the Minnesota Literacy Council. Our VISTA, once hired, will help build and nourish partnerships with supporters.

Regardless of your role with ESLC, there are many ways you can make even more of a difference. Below are a list of suggestions with corresponding links you can explore to find other ways to get more involved:

  1. Volunteer as a literacy tutor. If you already volunteer, consider volunteering more or recruiting a friend! If you are a professional tutor, consider volunteering an hour per week or during the summer.
  2. Check with your company to see if they have programs that will match your financial donation or volunteer commitment to ESLC. Learn more.
  3. Try out a special volunteer project on your own or with a group! We need volunteers to host drives for materials or books, make or sort tutoring materials, assist with data entry and much more!
  4. If you are a financial supporter, please consider becoming a monthly or annual supporter to increase our sustainable, predictable income sources.
  5. Share our posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
  6. Share our emails and anything you find interesting from our website with family and friends.