Literacy Center of Milford celebrates 20-year anniversary

Literacy Center Director Tami Jackson is pictured here at this year's annual Leprechaun Leapk, which raises money for the literacy center.

Literacy Center Director Tami Jackson is pictured here at this year’s annual Leprechaun Leap, which raises money for the literacy center.

The Literacy Center of Milford has good cause to celebrate. This year, the center marks its 20-year anniversary of enriching the lives of thousands of Milford-area residents from other countries in search of basic literacy skills.

Adding to the celebratory spirit of this anniversary year, the center adopted a new logo designed to reflect the organization’s evolution and growth. Center officials also plan a year-long roll-out of new educational programs and activities, as well as a full-scale marketing effort to reflect its new direction.

“We have a legacy to be proud of and countless accomplishments to celebrate,” said the center’s president, Martin O’Neill. “Our anniversary year is an excellent time to reflect, and to thank everyone — the organization’s hard-working staff, board of directors, and volunteer tutors; corporations and local businesses, agencies and foundations, and individual contributors — for helping us grow into the organization that we are today.”

According to O’Neill, 2014 also represents “a year of future-forward actions” that promises to be a banner year for the center. “Throughout the year, the center will be launching new educational programs, events and unveiling a re-branding program beginning with our new logo — all intrinsic to the shaping of our organization’s future,” he said.

 

The Center’s Makeover

The Literacy Center’s second-place victory in last fall’s local “Extreme Charity Makeover” competition, sponsored by Antelope Web, prompted the organization’s full-scale branding effort. The center walked away from the competition with a website upgrade plus a year of web hosting and e-mail, courtesy of the Milford-based web design company.

“Thanks to Antelope Web and its principal Greyson Schwing, our charity-derived upgrade for our current website makes possible a well-rounded marketing makeover for the center,” O’Neill said. “It will be a key factor in making us better understood as we step into the future of the community.”

The new logo, developed by independent marketing communications consultant Elizabeth Martin, features a two-color, open-book icon. Across its pages is the highlighted ‘enter’ portion of the word Center.

Supporting the logo is a tagline that spells out the center’s objective — ‘Linking Literacy to Our Community.’

 

Yesterday and Today

The center started out small — as a committee-run satellite office of the Literacy Volunteers of New Haven with funding from the Junior Women’s Club of Milford. The charity later became the sole task of Frances O’Neill, its first executive director. She ran the program out of her home until 1992, when the City of Milford provided office space at the Margaret Egan Center.

In 1994, O’Neill turned over the reins to Joy Stonier and Karen O’Neill, who were instrumental in forming the non-profit, community-based literacy agency known as The Literacy Center of Milford, Inc.

Through corporate sponsorships, donations and specialized staffing, the organization sprouted. It became an affiliate of the national Pro Literacy of America network of adult basic education and literacy programs, and recently, a United Way of Milford member agency.

Today, the Literacy Center of Milford is a bustling hub of learning with more than 100 continuing education students annually and about 6,000 hours logged by volunteer tutors. Its adult literacy programs enable students to earn a General Education Development degree and enter the job market, or take a citizenship exam and make America their home. The center also offers English as a Second Language classes so parents can help their children with homework, or participate in the community and become a functioning member of society.

“Literally we’ve been changing lives for 20 years,” said Executive Director Tami Jackson.

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