Two area literacy nonprofits merge

Literacy Services of Wisconsin expands footprint in Waukesha County

Student Darlene Wise works with volunteer tutor Beth Gosnell at Literacy Services of Wisconsin.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Milwaukee-based Literacy Services of Wisconsin and Greater Waukesha Literacy, two nonprofit providers of adult education programs, have merged.

The combined organization, which will retain the Literacy Services of Wisconsin name, plans to expand its adult job readiness development, English language learning and GED/high school equivalency diploma programs, according to a news release.

The merger took effect Wednesday.

LSW will maintain both its Milwaukee office, located at 555 N. Plankinton Ave., and Greater Waukesha Literacy’s location at 217 Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Waukesha.

“We are pleased to join with Greater Waukesha Literacy to deliver critical adult literacy services to the residents of Waukesha County,” said Jim Paetsch, president of the LSW board. “One’s ability to read and write is not only the gateway to civic participation, it’s a fundamental requirement for finding meaningful employment. Merging with GWL enables us to extend the geographic reach of LSW services and deepen our regional impact.”

Literacy Services of Wisconsin has been offering adult education services since 1965, when it was founded by members of First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa, Christ Presbyterian Church and North Shore Congregational Church.

Today, its services include English language learning, GED/high school equivalency diploma preparation, financial literacy, computer literacy and workforce readiness skills development. It serves more than 1,000 adult learners annually and has about 500 volunteers. In 2017, LSW acquired Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Services.

Greater Waukesha Literacy, formerly the Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha, was founded in 1986. It works annually with more than 350 students, who are referred by employers, self-referral, human service agencies, The Women’s Center, Salvation Army, Waukesha County Technical College and School District of Waukesha.

The GWL board of directors unanimously approved the merger.

“I am excited that Greater Waukesha Literacy is merging with Literacy Services of Wisconsin,” said John Klima, president of the GWL board. “I am confident that the merging of these two historic organizations will provide uninterrupted, high-quality services to people with literacy needs in Waukesha County.”

Holly McCoy, executive director of Literacy Services of Wisconsin, said LSW is committed to strategic partnerships that increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

“Impact cannot occur in a silo,” she said. “True impact requires collective resources and changing the ways that we interact with other like-minded organizations. Improving and increasing educational access has a tremendous impact on our K-12 school systems, employment market, and social and economic well-being.”

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