Top Floor Learning

In Their Own Words...




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TFL News and Announcements

2013 Annual May Basket Raffle

Individuals, businesses, local groups, and community organizations that would like to donate a themed basket for the 18th Annual Top Floor Learning May Basket raffle at the Palmer Public Library should contact Pam Lewis at 413-283-3691, palewis19@yahoo.com, or Top Floor Learning at 413-283-2329, for further information. Community response for this major fundraiser is always strong and provides a great way to show case your hobby, business or group activities while supporting this vital community organization.

People's United Grant for Adult Literacy

Palmer, March 2011 - Top Floor Learning is pleased to announce receipt of a donation of $5,000.00 from People's United Community Foundation to support the adult literacy program, Need to Read. People's United has an outstanding record of community support for non-profit organizations that focus on community development, youth development and affordable housing. People's United has chosen to invest in our organization because, they believe, "you enhance the quality of life for those you serve."

Call 413 283 2329 to find out about our extensive range of adult literacy programs. We can help if you need English as a Second Language instruction, want to prepare for a GED, go to college, or simply want to improve your math, reading and writing skills. Recognizing the fact that many people are in the midst of career change, we also offer specialized test preparation, for example, ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), CDL (Commercial Driver's License), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examinations for Registered or Practical Nurses, and many other specialized tests. Visit the website at www.topfloorlearning.org for more details.

The work Top Floor Learning does is an investment in the health of our community. We thank People's United Charitable Foundation for their commitment to these shared goals and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.

Top Floor Learning receives Verizon Foundation Award

Palmer: Thursday, September 9, 2010 — Donna Cupelo, Verizon Regional President, and Ellen Cummings, Verizon Regional Director of Public Affairs, presented a check for $10,000 to Top Floor Learning in a ceremony at Worcester Public Library on September 9, 2010. Top Floor Learning was selected by the Verizon Foundation as one of the 2010 Verizon Foundation English for Speakers of Other Languages Award winners. Ten other adult education organizations in Western Massachusetts received a similar award for their work with English language learners. Verizon has made a strong commitment to supporting organizations that provide literacy services, recognizing that basic literacy skills and, at a minimum, a high school diploma or GED are essential requirements for success in the twenty-first century. This applies even more in the current economic environment.

Top Floor Learning is pleased to receive Verizon's recognition and support for our work in adult literacy education. We offer English as a Second Language, citizenship preparation, Financial Literacy, specialized reading/writing/math instruction, and a comprehensive GED program. Recently-introduced programs include Bridge to College, for non-traditional adults who wish to enter college, and Survivor's Bridge for girls and women who have experienced domestic violence. Participants for these programs come from the Quaboag Hills region and beyond.

If you would like more information about Top Floor Learning, please visit the website at www.topfloorlearning.org, or call 413 283 2329. We are located on the third level of Palmer Public Library and you are welcome to visit any time during library opening hours.

Survivor's Bridge at Top Floor Learning

Survivor's Bridge is a ground-breaking program jointly developed by Top Floor Learning and Madeline Wheeler, coordinator of the Palmer Domestic Violence Task Force, for women and girls who are or have been affected by domestic violence. The current financial climate of job losses, home foreclosures, credit card debt, and statewide cuts to social services has increased women and girls' vulnerability. Survivor's Bridge will reach out to women and teen victims of violence and assist them in learning the basic skills necessary for self-empowerment.

Education and financial independence are crucial factors necessary to help women and girls leave and remain out of abusive relationships. During this year-long program, survivors will enroll in the courses they need to achieve their educational and personal goals to help them gain independence. Up to 25 women and girls will take part in free, confidential one-to-one tutoring sessions or small classes. The topics offered include: basic math, reading and writing; GED preparation and testing; entry-level college courses; financial literacy, basic computer classes, English as a Second Language; and citizenship preparation. All classes will be taught by specially-trained volunteer tutors.

In addition, Madeline Wheeler will lead workshops in journaling, public speaking, and advocacy for survivors, as well as teach a special 6-hour course on the impact of violence on health and self-empowerment. Survivor's Bridge will also help participants to utilize available community resources including nutritional support programs such as WIC, emotional support groups, transitional assistance opportunities, and college scholarship applications for survivors. Survivors' suggestions and needs will guide the evolution of the program.

Survivor's Bridge is funded by Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. In-kind support is provided by Turley Publications, Palmer Public Library, Giclee of New England, and the many volunteer tutors who will provide instruction. If you would like to take part in any of the classes mentioned, or would like more information, please call Margaret at 413 283 2329, or visit the website at www.topfloorlearning.org. All calls will be completely confidential.



Top Floor Learning Awarded Grant from Wing Health Foundation

June 10, 2010 - Top Floor Learning is pleased to announce it has won an award from Wing Health Foundation for a literacy program called "Need to Read." The award is for $10,000 for one year. A good deal of research shows that low literacy, or functional illiteracy, may impair health. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Report #87 states that, "[low literacy] is associated with poor understanding of written or spoken medical advice, adverse health outcomes, and negative effects on the health of the population." Readmission to hospital is a common problem and often happens because patients don't understand instructions, whether verbal or written. This problem could be mitigated, in some measure, by identifying and helping patients who find reading difficult.

The goal of the Need to Read project is to identify, through short questionnaires administered in the hospital outpatient environment, people who have difficulty reading drug labels, and difficulty in comprehending medical instructions. Once identified, patients will be directed to apply to Top Floor Learning for literacy help and support. The process will be entirely confidential.

Top Floor Learning has a long history of working with adults who have difficulties with reading and comprehension, and has several tutors who are specially trained to work with struggling readers. We will offer a confidential, personally-tailored course of instruction to those who apply by calling 413 283 2329. We thank Wing Health Foundation for the opportunity to be able to offer this program and be of service in the community.



Awards, Announcements and Collaborations

Second Top Floor Learning and Babson College MCFE Project Concludes

Second Top Floor Learning and Babson College MCFE Project Concludes

May 5th, 2010 - Top Floor Learning, Inc. is pleased to announce it has concluded its second semester-long Management Consultant Field Experience (MCFE) project at Babson College, Wellesley, MA. The project was conducted during the spring 2010 semester and the final report was presented at Babson College on April 28th, 2010. The presentation was attended by board president Fred Moody, board treasurer Debra Christiensen, board member Teresa Grove, and Margaret Boyko, CEO. Ron Masnicki, a retired businessman and Palmer resident, initially introduced TFL to the Babson MCFE program in 2006. Ron and his wife, Virginia, who has served as a board member and volunteer tutor at TFL, are both long-term, loyal supporters of the organization.

Babson's MCFE program provides a practical, hands-on consulting experience for undergraduate students, giving them the opportunity to apply their formal training in a real-world situation, while developing their strengths as a team. MCFE teams are selected after a rigorous application process, and typically consist of four undergraduates and a project manager, generally a graduate student in Babson's MBA program. Each team is partnered with corporate clients seeking advice in areas such as strategic planning, business development, marketing and finance. Corporate clients include non-profits, small start-up companies, and established larger companies, all seeking solutions to a wide variety of current challenges.

Top Floor Learning's MCFE team consisted of four undergraduate students: Christian Bracy, Nick Camillo, Jorge Del Pino, and Kerry Liszka. The team worked under the direction of project manager Erica Hirsch, a Babson MBA candidate. Professor Joseph Weintraub serves the MCFE program as its faculty director, and the MCFE program is managed by Rosemary Casey.

The MCFE team was asked to produce a five-year business plan focused on program development, financial management, and marketing strategies, to enable TFL to consolidate and expand its range of services. As the premier provider of literacy services and lifelong learning in the Quaboag Hills region, TFL currently offers: GED preparation and testing; English as a Second Language and Citizenship; Bridge to College, and Financial Literacy. Instruction is delivered by volunteer tutors who are trained by TFL staff. The Lifelong Learning program offers a wide variety of general-interest classes: Life Matters, Personal Growth, Health and Wellness, Arts and Crafts, and a wide range of Computer Classes.

Top Floor Learning plans to rely heavily on the findings of the MCFE study as it develops future programs and strategies. The work of the Babson MCFE project team was mature, focused and professional. Top Floor Learning is extremely grateful to have had such an opportunity and looks forward to engaging in future MCFE projects.

Top Floor Learning Receives Literacy Donation Check

Top Floor Learning Receives Literacy Donation Check

April 24, 2010 - Top Floor Learning is delighted to be the recipient of the General Federation of Women's Clubs literacy donation. As Director of Massachusetts Junior Clubs from 2008 - 2010, Donna Shibley decided to make literacy her focus area after reading about the enormous problem of illiteracy in the US. As she said in August, 2009, "The literacy rate in the US has many educators in search of answers about this problem that has plagued our country for decades. Instead of decreasing, the number of illiterate people has steadily increased over the years. This raises a lot of questions about our education system, how it is run, and why there is such a problem with illiterate people in our country." Donna then went on to state, "The NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) administered tests which revealed that an estimated 14% of US residents would have extreme difficulty with reading and written comprehension. These people can legally be defined as illiterate."

Donna enlisted the support of all GFWC Junior Clubs in Massachusetts and reached her goal of raising $2,500 from donations and sales from bookmarks and star necklaces (handcrafted by T Jablanski) as well as from generous club donations. Margaret Boyko, Chief Executive of Top Floor Learning, was privileged to attend the business meeting in Westborough and accept the check which was presented by Donna Shibley and T Jablanski. This generous donation enables Top Floor Learning to continue its work of providing adult literacy services in the Quaboag Hills region of Western Massachusetts.

Top Floor Learning, Inc. Wins Verizon Foundation Grant

Top Floor Learning wins Verizon Foundation Grant

Ellen Cummings, Regional Director of Public Affairs for the Verizon Foundation, presented a check for $10,000 to Top Floor Learning, a non-profit organization which provides adult literacy, GED services, and lifelong learning opportunities in the Quaboag Hills region of Western Massachusetts. TFL is delighted to note that this is the third year Verizon has publicly endorsed our work in the field of literacy.

Verizon has made a public commitment to supporting organizations that provide literacy services, recognizing that basic literacy skills and a minimum educational level of a high school diploma or GED are essential requirements for success in the twenty-first century. TFL is a non-profit volunteer organization, supported by the community, with funding provided by individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations.

As the pre-eminent provider of adult literacy services and lifelong learning in the region, TFL offers English as a Second Language classes, citizenship preparation, Financial Literacy, Bridge to College, specialized reading/writing/math instruction, and a comprehensive GED program. A partnership between Holyoke Community College which began three years ago has evolved in to TFL becoming the only off-site GED testing center in the region. These high-quality literacy programs, in addition to a wide range of lifelong learning classes, attract participants from all parts of Western Massachusetts.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit the website at www.topfloorlearning.org, or call 413 283 2329. We are located on the third level of the Palmer Public Library, and you are welcome to visit any time. If you would like to be put on the mailing list, please call the above number. This will ensure delivery of the course catalogue, which is printed four times a year.

Click here for a PDF from Massachusetts Literacy Champions 2009 focusing on TFL.

Awards

Monday June 1, Marsha was awarded Literacy Champion 2009. Monday June 8, TFL was nominated for Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Excellence Award for Innovation. Margaret went to the State House in Boston to receive this award, and collected two citations, one from Todd Smola and one from Senator Brewer.

Nonprofit Awareness Day

Last year, Governor Patrick signed into law and officially recognized Nonprofit Awareness Day as an annual event, celebrated on the second Monday in June. One year later, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network commemorated the day with the first ever annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards. After receiving nominations from many commendable individuals and organizations, the winners were selected and received their awards on Monday, June 8th at a State House Ceremony. During the event, Governor Patrick stated, "I value the awards and your contributions," while signing the legislation, which included a proclamation by the House of Representatives. Furthermore, while commenting on the current fiscal situation, Governor Patrick declared:

"We will do and continue to do all we can, having to make those very, very difficult decisions.

Let me say to you, for what comfort it may be, that I know that things are not abstractions. I understand that they are for some individual, some family, whose best chance - or only chance - is behind every single one of those line items we are dealing with.

We are at the receiving end of the very important services that you provide… If there are ways that we can help convene, if there are ways through the awards, for example - and congratulations to all of you - that we can lift up the value of the contributions that you make.

But I know that together we can and we will build a stronger Commonwealth. We will see the fiscal situation restored and thriving again and we have to do what we can right now, together, to keep this network in place and intact so that we are as strong as possible to take advantage of the return when it comes. So I want to thank you, I want to honor you, I want to also give you…a commemorative copy of this very important piece of legislation."

Top Floor Learning was nominated by Senator Stephen Brewer for the MNN Nonprofit Innovation Award. In recognition of this honor, TFL received citations from the Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo, State Senator Brewer, and State Representative Todd Smola.

Nonprofit Leaders were addressed by:

  • Speaker Robert DeLeo, affirmed, "Every day, nonprofits in Massachusetts make a difference in our state, enriching the lives of our children, our families and our communities. From caring for the sick to supporting the arts, from inspiring our young people to raising funds and awareness of eminently worthy causes our states, nonprofits play an important role in improving the lives of people all over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I want to congratulate today's award winners as well as the numerous deserving nominees for their accomplishments this year. I'd also like to thank the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network for its commitment to the growth and success of these terrific groups. I truly look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of the Massachusetts nonprofit organizations for many years to come."
  • Senate President Pro Tem Stan Rosenberg, bringing Senate greetings, acknowledged, "The Nonprofit sector and the organizations and people associated with it are the back bone of Massachusetts"
  • Attorney General Martha Coakley stated, "Non profit organizations large and small play a huge role in our economy in Massachusetts, not only in the services that they provide, but also as some of our state's larges-t employers. Our office is committed to working in partnership with non-profits in Massachusetts to ensure good governance and integrity in the non-profit sector. Particularly during these challenging fiscal times, it is critical that we safeguard the livelihood of these organizations so that they can continue to enrich and contribute to our communities."
  • MNN Legislators of the Year were awarded to Representative Charles Murphy and Senator Susan Fargo - Rep. Charles Murphy declared, "The Nonprofit Network, what a fabulous job! Just a great idea, because the way things get done, in any state, you just need a large voice, a lot of people behind something, because that's when people stand up and take note"
  • Dave Magnani, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network states "The contributions of the nonprofit community are essential to the quality of life in the commonwealth. The winners of the Excellence Awards demonstrate the essential work and important accomplishments and services of this valuable sector. "

Selected from over 110 applications in 7 categories, the winners recognized were:

  • MNN Nonprofit Advocacy Award - Dot Art
  • MNN Nonprofit Collaboration Award - The Fairmount/Indigo Line CDC Collaborative
  • MNN Nonprofit Governance Award - Minute Man Arc of Concord
  • MNN Nonprofit Innovation Award - Community Servings
  • MNN Nonprofit Leadership Award - The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge ( PMC )
  • MNN Nonprofit Management Award - Big Sister Association of Greater Boston
  • MNN Nonprofit Young Professional Award - Meghan Trombly of Strong Women, Strong Girls

About the MNN

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is a statewide association of nonprofit organizations. MNN supports the nonprofit sector through advocacy, public awareness, and capacity building. Established in 2007, the MNN has won legislative victories, bolstered public awareness of individual nonprofits and the sector as a whole, and fostered a positive working environment for its 500+ members. Nonprofits account for 14% of Massachusetts' work force, providing necessary services and wellbeing to the state. For more information about the MNN, please contact Heather Hartshorn at hhartshorn@massnonprofitnet.org, or call 617-330-1188 ext. 240.



LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT GIFT?

Ask about our new gift certificates! Gift certificates may be redeemed for any Lifelong Learning class. Choose the amount you wish to spend: $10, $25, $45, $75, $100. Purchase your gift certificate at the reception desk in the TFL office.









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