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Portland's LearningWorks, Literacy Volunteers merge

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Portland's LearningWorks, Literacy Volunteers merge

PORTLAND — Literacy Volunteers-Greater Portland announced last week that it has merged with West End-based LearningWorks.

The two non-profits each offer literacy classes for adults. The merger will allow Literacy Volunteers to take advantage of the resources and infrastructure of the larger LearningWorks.

Susannah Kerest, spokeswoman for LearningWorks, said demand for adult English literacy classes is bigger than ever as more and more immigrants move to the city.

"Portland has really become a popular spot for people from all countries," she said. About 70 percent of Literacy Volunteers' clients are non-English speakers.

While LearningWorks (formerly Portland West) offers daytime adult group classes for English learners, Literacy Volunteers offers evening one-on-one reading and writing services.

"We really want to respond to the needs of the community," Kerest said.

Literacy Volunteers had been having a difficult financial time raising the $65,000 it needed annually, as donations to the organization decreased due to the economy, while demand for tutoring increased. In September, the local chapter of the national organization announced that without longtime sponsorship or a merger it may have to close down.

According to LearningWorks, its English Language Program served about 130 people this year. Literacy Volunteers tutored between 130 and 150 people.

Literacy Volunteers Director Phyllis de Fano will continue in her position, except she is now an employee of LearningWorks. Literacy Volunteers will keep its name because of its recognition as a national organization.

"It's important for them to retain that name, especially for people looking for services," Kerest said.

For more information about literacy programs at LearningWorks, e-mail lvportland@learningworks.me or call 775-0105.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net