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Example: Working Together to Promote Adult Literacy

An adult literacy program had several volunteers who worked for a firm that designed and published booklets on health and psychological topics designed for populations that might have low reading levels, such as welfare recipients and teens at risk.

Through those volunteers, the director of the program was asked to give a United Way presentation to employees of the publishing firm. Through this presentation, he met the firm's owners, a married couple who were both leaders of the local business community, and particularly oriented toward community service. As a result of the director's relationship with them, they became supporters of the literacy program in several ways, including donating phones and phone costs for an annual three-day fundraising phone-a-thon.

The relationship also yielded important benefits to the publishing firm, through their asking students in the literacy program to provide feedback on their booklets. This arrangement was a great learning opportunity for students; it was also a way for them to function as experts and to gain confidence while they provided truly valuable information to the publishing firm. This two-way relationship lasted for many years, and the publishing firm remained an ardent supporter of both the organization and literacy even after the owners themselves retired.

Bill Berkowitz
Jerry Schultz