A Community Letter Regarding the Budget

Posted on Friday, September 1, 2017 by Austin Tremblay

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Dear Friends of the Village Learning Place,

Thank you for your continued engagement in helping the Village Learning Place (VLP) address our $200,000 budget shortfall due to city, state, and federal budget cuts. After extensive discussions and review of community input and organizational data, the Board has made some difficult decisions regarding our programming and operations. Through cuts and scaling back, as well as new fundraising efforts, we will rebuild and strengthen our financial position in order to continue delivering quality programming to all community members we serve.

Scaling Back in the Library

For the coming year, the VLP Board and management have decided upon the following:

  • Library operations – As of September 1st, the library will be closed on Fridays, but will remain open during normal business hours throughout the week (Mo-Th & Sat).
  • Adult Basic Education/GED – Though we will continue donating the library space in support of the existing GED preparation class, the VLP will not devote staff time or resources to the management of the class or other Adult Beginner Computer classes.
  • 2nd Wednesdays/Baltimore History Evenings – Monthly programming will continue per normal. To bolster our adult cultural programming, we will pursue additional in-kind support through donations of refreshments and new volunteers.
  • Senior Tea – This program will shift from 12-month to a 7-month schedule (April to October).

Youth Programming – Registration and Costs

LINK (Let’s Invest in Neighborhood Kids) programming will also undergo a change. Currently LINK is free to all families, but it costs the VLP $2,800 per student per year to run LINK After School. Based on responses from the LINK family survey, we will implement a Pay-What-You-Can model for the 2017–18 academic year. This will allow us to offset costs through voluntary contributions while ensuring equitable access.

We know how important the VLP is to families in our community, and it’s clear from the survey responses that our families stand behind LINK and hope for its continued success. That support means a great deal, and we want to do all we can to preserve the LINK program. We will reach out to LINK families by August 30th with details about fall registration. As we approach next summer, we will make decisions regarding LINK Summer programming, based on our financial health.

Youth Programming – Reducing Classrooms

Because each classroom carries a substantial operating cost, we will reduce LINK After School to four (4) classes. Last fall, in a tremendous demonstration of community support, we raised enough funds from individual donors to offer an extra LINK class, increasing from five classes to six. We considered holding a similar campaign this year, but crowdfunding is not a sustainable long-term method of supporting LINK classrooms. Instead, VLP staff will focus on submitting a grant proposal for new funding through Baltimore City’s Out-of-School Time (OST) Request For Proposals.

We understand that change can be challenging and enduring these cuts might pose a hardship for some of our families and neighbors. The VLP, though, is fortunate to have a dedicated, caring community that unites to tackle tough issues, and our focus, as always, will be on continuing to provide VLP services to families for whom they are most vital. Although we will have fewer classrooms, we will continue to offer the same high quality instruction our students need and deserve.

Moving Forward

The Board continues to seek out new sources of revenue, including new grants from the city and state. We’re also planning a neighborhood canvassing campaign and new fall fundraisers, and we need your help!

On Friday, October 13th, we hope you will join us for Pumpkins ‘n Pints, a new fall fundraiser featuring live music, adult refreshments, and (you guessed it) pumpkin carving! Information about this event and online ticket sales will be up on the VLP website soon. We also have several restaurant fundraiser nights in the works and hope our community will come out to support the VLP!

If you’d like to lend a hand with these events or our other fundraisers – including Read Between the Wines and Spaghetti Disco – please also consider joining our Development Committee or one of our Events Committees to assist with fundraising and community outreach.

This fall, we will also canvas the neighborhood to connect with more local businesses and residents and increase awareness about the VLP and our programs. We’d like to engage our neighbors who don’t know about the organization, so we’ll need volunteers to create flyers, help prepare materials, and walk the neighborhood alongside us. We’ll send out a volunteer sign-up link soon for canvassing and other fall projects.

VLP Board and staff members are always open to new fundraising strategies and community outreach. Please write to us with any suggestions or questions. Thanks for supporting the VLP!

Sincerely,

Liesje Buckley Gantert                                               Steph Schreckinger
Executive Director                                                      Board President
410-235-2210, x202
director@villagelearningplace.org