Skyline Literacy Remains Open

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October 31, 2018
Board Meeting Results In No Decision On Status
Daily News-Record  10/31/18
HARRISONBURG — A meeting of the Skyline Literacy board of directors to discuss the fate of the 30-year organization resulted in no firm decisions at this time. After having its federal funding cut two years ago, the Harrisonburg- based organization for adult learners looking to improve their reading skills, attain citizenship, earn a GED or other similar objectives, has struggled to make ends meet.
Skyline Literacy previously received $200,000 from the Department of Homeland Security. After it was cut, the organization used smaller grants to stay in operation that were short-lived and are no longer available, said Andy Kohen, treasurer of the organization.
In response, Skyline Literacy has cut costs drastically. Staff has been reduced from five to two, and the organization is cuttings its physical footprint to save on rent. Its 1,000-square-foot space on North Mason Street in downtown will be reduced to a couple of hundred feet, said Kohen and Bill Fisher, Skyline Literacy’s president. The cuts have them wondering whether they are continuing to fulfill their mission. Tutoring services and classes have slowed because of the reductions in staff, and there is a wait list to register for classes. Despite the need for Skyline’s unique services in the community, and no desire to close, the board of directors met Monday night to address that possibility. Instead of closing the doors, the board has decided to launch a fundraising campaign for the rest of the year in the hopes the nonprofit can remain open at least until the end of the fiscal 2019 in June. Officials say Skyline needs $150,000 annually to effectively serve the community.
“We spent a lot of time with the idea of fundraising,” Fisher said of the meeting Monday. “We haven’t come to any hard decisions. We just want to get through this year.” Letters will be going out this week to past donors outlining the situation and asking them to donate once again. Fisher said the organization is going to campaign hard and hope it’s enough.
“It’s all hands on deck. We’re operating to stay alive and keep the doors open,” he said.
The board will meet again in November and depending on the response from the community between now and then, a more formal decision might be made at that time. That meeting is scheduled for Nov. 27.
Kohen said that the effort to campaign for community support leaves the organization “in limbo at the moment.”
“Whether this works or not remains to be seen,” Kohen said.