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Literacy CNY To Restart Soon With Help And Expanded Programming From Literacy Rochester

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Scott Willis
WAER News file photo
A literacy class at SUNY EOC in January 2020. Literacy CNY shut down that November.

Nearly a year after shutting down, Literacy CNY is ramping up operations again with help from a sister organization down the Thruway.  Literacy Rochester is not only restarting programs here, they’re planning to launch new ones.

Executive Director Joshua Stapf says they’re already making progress, and hope to have classes up and running by January or even sooner.

Last November, Stapf says Literacy CNY simply ran out of money when state funding dried up during the pandemic. Now he says they’re hoping to resurrect the organization without it. They plan to add a digital literacy program to the mix, since many people with low literacy also lack computer skills. Stapf says now it’s a matter of reaching those who might benefit the most.

"A lot of these people come from very insulated communities where they don't necessarily trust outside people and organizations. We rely on our connections with former students and also with leadership within refugee/immigrant organizations where a lot of these students come from."

He says literacy is key to high school equivalency programs or vocational training, which are offered across the hall at the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center.

"When those students come to the EOC and they don't reach those levels, they bring them over to Literacy CNY where we provide small group classes of intense instruction so to help them raise their reading and math scores, usually within about a three month period. Then they can go back to the EOC."

104-year-old Ruth Colvin started the adult literacy movement here in Syracuse 60 years ago and took it across the nation and the world. She’s pleased to see her legacy continue after Literacy CNY’s temporary closure.

"When they failed, Rochester offered to help. This is exactly what I'm proud of. That all of you are interested in knowing the importance of being able to read."

Assemblymembers Al Stirpe and Bill Magnarelli were on hand for the announcement, which marked International Literacy Day.  More information about becoming a student, volunteering, and donating is at

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Scott Willis
104-year-old Ruth Colvin is the mother of literacy in Syracuse, starting ProLiteracy Worldwide in 1962.