Funding shortfall halts Literacy Victoria programs

A lack of funding is forcing a Victoria organization that taught hundreds of adults to read free of charge to suspend its activities effective Aug. 31.

Literacy Victoria has been operating for 26 years, offering tutoring to adults who’ve slipped through the cracks of education, suffered brain injuries or found themselves unemployable because of illiteracy.

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“It’s a terribly difficult decision,” Susan Reece, vice-chairwoman of Literacy Victoria’s board of directors, said on Wednesday.

Funding has come from various sources such as the provincial government, United Way, Victoria Foundation and the Times Colonist book drive. Funding cuts have made it impossible for Literacy Victoria to continue in its present form, Reece said.

A workable annual budget of $225,000 is impossible to fund, so the options are to either go bankrupt or shut down temporarily and find other sources, she said.

“We need more [money] than what we’re getting,” she said.

The funds go toward paying rent for their premises at 930 Yates St. where the free tutoring takes place and paying a small staff.

Literacy Victoria has an outreach program that includes tutoring for inmates at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, a bookmobile for the homeless and a mobile computer lab.

“At the end of the day, there just isn’t enough money to pay our bills for anything other than the short term,” she said.

Learning to read allows adults to find employment and build esteem that they couldn’t do through any other skill, she said.

By suspending operations temporarily, Reece said the directors hope new funding sources can be found and the society can return in some fashion to provide literacy programs.

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