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Literacy Volunteers Embarks on $20,000 Campaign

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County has hit the ground running with an ambitious fundraising goal. Late last year, WBFO News told you the agency was facing a $50,000 budget cut from Erie County.

With the City of Buffalo's functional illiteracy rate 10 percent higher than the national average, Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo is trying to raise $20,000 by mid-March.

Executive Director Tracy Diina promised in December she would work toward new fundraising strategies. She says the organization has managed to broaden its outreach in just a couple of months, pinpointing those who are sympathetic to the literacy cause. Now Diina says new donations are already arriving.

"We established which individuals were supported of similar agencies," Diina said. "We've written to them asking them to consider supporting for us for the first time. And I'm happy to report that we did sent out letters two-weeks ago and we've hit about 25 percent of our goal."

But Diina says this is only the first step in seeking new revenues. She says they envision a possible "fee-for-service" in the future to tap into the 21,000 people who want to learn to speak English.

"We are seeing some people, particularly our second language students, who are fairly affluent individuals," Diina said. "We think our service is just a good product that we can sell this."

But for now, Diina says she's bracing for the challenge of raising the other 75 percent of their $20,000 goal. She expects to hit the phones in the next couple of weeks in an effort cut the City's 30-percent illiteracy rate.