New Co-Presidents to Lead Delaware County Literacy Council Board of Directors

Rick Durante and Jennifer Stock

Press Release of March 4, 2021

Rick Durante of Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) and Jennifer Stock, Director of the Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library, have been elected as Co-Presidents of the Board of Directors of the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC).

Rick Durante is Vice President, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Government Affairs at FMFCU and Executive Director of the FMFCU Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Managers and is Executive Director of the Credit Union Network for Financial Literacy, LLC (CUNFL).
Rick’s work at FMCU Foundation includes overseeing all community giving programs, including education grants, teacher awards, community grants, Delco Hi-Q, the food insecurity fund, and other charitable giving in the communities served by FMFCU. Rick has been involved with Delco Hi-Q, the oldest continuous academic competition in the United States, since 2004. He currently serves as Quizmaster and Executive Director of the competition.

Rick finds serving on the DCLC Board of Directors to be rewarding. He explains, “I started volunteering with DCLC 12 years ago, and the growth and impact of the organization that I’ve witnessed over that time is amazing. The work of DCLC in improving literacy has helped students open doors to educational and employment opportunities that can help them move out of poverty and underemployment.”

Jennifer Stock earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Drexel University. She has worked in Delaware County Libraries in various roles since 2001. Before becoming the Director of the Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library, Jennifer served as Head of Public Services for the Marple Library, Assistant Director of the Marple Library, and Director of the Helen Kate Furness Free Library.

Jennifer describes first learning about the Literacy Council when she noticed literacy tutors meeting with their adult students in libraries where she was working. Jennifer says she is impressed with how DCLC has adapted to changing needs in the community, explaining, “Now the focus is not only on adult basic literacy, adult GED, adult English as a Second Language (ESL), and adults’ learning something so that they can go on to either higher education or citizenship, but now there is also an important literacy-to-work aspect that DCLC provides.”

She adds, “The Literacy Council has embraced this change, and we’ve seen the success. There are even DCLC students who have been able to become employees and continue the mission in that role. That’s amazing and a testament to the organization.”

Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union has provided financial products and services to its members in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond since 1970. As the largest financial institution headquartered in Delaware County, FMFCU has 110,000 members, 2,500 partner organizations, and branches located throughout the Delaware Valley.

The Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library includes three branches, the Sellers Memorial Branch on State Road in Upper Darby, the Primos Branch on Ashland Avenue in Secane, and the Municipal Branch on Bywood Avenue in Upper Darby. These libraries belong to the Delaware County Libraries, a federated system comprised of 26 member libraries.

The Delaware County Literacy Council helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit https://www.delcoliteracy.org.

Literacy Telethon Reaches Goal with Boost from Rosenthal Family Foundation

Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal

Press Release of November 23, 2020

Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal
Monica Horan Rosenthal was born and raised in Delaware County and starred in Everybody Loves Raymond, which was created by her husband Phil Rosenthal. The Rosenthals awarded the Delaware County Literacy Council a generous grant through the Rosenthal Family Foundation in support of this fall’s Literacy Is Essential Telethon.

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon brought together a bevy of stars and community leaders to shine the spotlight on adult literacy and to raise awareness and needed funds for the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC), all while keeping attendees safe. The fundraising goal of the innovative online event was to raise $45,000.00 in honor of the 45 years that DCLC has been providing free literacy services to local adults.

Held online on October 21st, the Telethon succeeded by all measures. Sponsors supported the event; celebrities, entertainers, and civic leaders shared their talent and insight during the event; individuals donated to the event; and attendees thoroughly enjoyed the event. But the ambitious goal of raising $45,000.00 was achieved only because of a generous $15,000.00 matching grant awarded to DCLC by the Rosenthal Family Foundation.

The Rosenthal Family Foundation was created by Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal. Monica hails from Delaware County and shared a personal message during the Telethon. She is best known as Amy MacDougall/Amy Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. Phil created, wrote, and executive produced the beloved TV show and currently has a food travelogue series on Netflix called Somebody Feed Phil! When Monica heard about the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) and the Literacy Is Essential Telethon, she took it upon herself to learn more. Touched by the stories of adults who persist in their studies, often despite challenging barriers, Monica then wanted to do more in support of DCLC’s students.

In Monica’s Telethon message she explained, “I was born and raised in Delco but I had no idea about the incredible work the Delaware County Literacy Council has been doing for 45 years. And I was so touched to learn that it all started because Chester community members noticed that their neighbors were struggling with reading, writing, math, and they didn’t just notice, they did something about it.”

Thus inspired, Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal took action and awarded DCLC a matching grant from the Rosenthal Family Foundation to help spur donations during the Telethon. As a result, the first $15,000.00 raised during the Telethon was matched and doubled to become $30,000.00, which launched the event two-thirds of the way toward its overall fundraising goal. Donations and sponsorships combined to raise the remaining $15,000.00, helping DCLC raise the 45th anniversary target of $45,000.00!

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon’s generous sponsors include Major Sponsors Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and PECO; Supporting Sponsors Brinker Simpson, Sun East Federal Credit Union, and White Horse Village; Gold Sponsors the Ed Snyder Family Foundation, King’s Automotive, and Wayne Jewelers; Silver Sponsors John Cipollone Heating and Cooling and Rose Valley Appraisal; Bronze Sponsors Vinnie Arcana and R&N Enterprises; and individual sponsors David Belanger, Madeline Bialecki, Michael Hartnett, and Carol A. Weiss.

Helmed by emcee Shonette Harrison Carew, the Literacy Is Essential Telethon honored the 2020 Champions of Adult Literacy for furthering the cause of adult literacy in Delaware County. During the Telethon, awards were presented to Student Champion Maria Torres, Community Champion Jonathan Abdur Rahim King, and Hometown Hero Champion the Delaware County Citizen Corps.

The roster of stars appearing in the Telethon was impressive and included celebrities, entertainers, and civic leaders with roots in or connections to Delaware County. From the sports world Dan Connor and Vince Papale each shared an inspirational message. Former Champions of Adult Literacy and local entertainment standouts Jahlil Beats and Dyana Williams also gave messages of support. Sharing their personal connection to literacy and to Delaware County from the world of TV and movies were Monica Horan; Fran Brill, a Sesame Street puppeteer; Byron Johnson, a hairstylist for Tyler Perry Studios; Cheri Oteri, best known for her work on Saturday Night Live; and Tina Fey, who presented Maria Torres with the Student Champion of Adult Literacy award.

Also appearing were television news anchors Lucy Bustamante of NBC10/Telemundo62 and Jessica Kartalija of CBS3, and local leaders Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, PA Representative Jenn O’Mara, and DCCC President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black.

Entertainment was provided by singer-songwriters Danie Ocean and Matthew Ryan, both from Chester; Lost Northern Tribe, a local band out of Media; and Broadway performer Kathy Deitch, originally from Ridley Park.

A special raffle prize was also generously provided by Phil Rosenthal of the Rosenthal Family Foundation. The “Dinner with Phil” raffle offered attendees the chance to have a free meal delivered from a local restaurant and then to share that meal with Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal by video chat. Bonnie Hallam of Drexel Hill won the raffle prize.

More than 130 individuals donated to the Telethon, and as many as 500 people viewed the event live. A replay of the Telethon can be seen at https://bit.ly/TelethonReplay.

The Rosenthal Family Foundation works alongside grassroots activists to address issues of inequity. While most of the funding is focused in Los Angeles, the foundation supports a number of organizations working in the Philadelphia area and New York City. Key focus areas include developing a leadership pipeline for community based organizations and ensuring arts education is core curriculum in public schools. The Rosenthal Family Foundation recently launched a new program titled Somebody Feed The People, to support organizations working to alleviate hunger and food insecurity in communities across the United States and the globe.

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.

Delco Stars to Shine in Literacy Is Essential Telethon

Telethon Celebrities

Press Release of September 29. 2020

Celebrities appearing in the Literacy Is Essential Telethon
Delco celebrities will be shining bright at the free online Literacy Is Essential Telethon in support of DCLC on October 21, 2020.
Shown top row, left to right: Tina Fey, Danie Ocean, Fran Brill, and Cheri Oteri; second row, left to right: Vince Papale, Monica Horan, Dan Connor, and Jahlil Beats.

What do Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, Jahlil Beats, Monica Horan, Fran Brill, Matthew Ryan, Dan Connor, Danie Ocean, and Vince Papale have in common? They all hail from Delaware County originally, and they all will be contributing their talent and star power to the first-ever Literacy Is Essential Telethon in support of Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC). Clearly these Delco luminaries understand that helping adults improve their literacy skills, learn English, earn GEDs, and get family-sustaining jobs is needed now more than ever.

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon is a free online celebration of adult literacy that will take place Wednesday, October 21, 2020, at 8:00 pm EDT. Anyone interested in attending can view the Telethon by visiting bit.ly/LE-Oct21 on October 21. The same link also provides a video preview and more details about the event.

The Telethon will honor the 2020 Champions of Adult Literacy, all of whom have furthered the cause of adult literacy in Delaware County. Awards will be presented to Student Champion Maria Torres, Community Champion Jonathan Abdur Rahim King, and Hometown Hero Champion the Delaware County Citizen Corps.

To celebrate these deserving Champions and to raise funds in support of DCLC’s free literacy services, Delco celebrities and community leaders will be performing and sharing messages of support. The event also will be a great opportunity to learn about the depth and generosity of talent from Delco.

While most people are already fans of Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, and Vince Papale, they may not know Fran Brill, a puppeteer who grew up in Wallingford and who is responsible for the groundbreaking Muppets Prairie Dawn and Zoe on Sesame Street. Recording artists Matthew Ryan and Danie Ocean are both from Chester, and both will be performing during the Telethon. Learn about more special guests at bit.ly/LE-Oct21. DCLC invites all who care about adult literacy and who are proud to live in Delaware County to attend!

The Telethon is generously supported by Major Sponsors Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Harrah’s Philadelphia and Supporting Sponsors Sun East Federal Credit Union and White Horse Village, along with many other generous community members.

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.

News for You Grant Helps Literacy Students Learn Online

ESL Class

Press Release of September 2, 2020

In March of 2020, the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) was awarded a Mobile Learning Fund Grant from ProLiteracy. The grant provided a free subscription to News for You Online, a weekly newspaper with topical articles and literacy lessons that can be accessed online.

DCLC Instructor James Stein poses with some of his ESL students before the pandemic. When DCLC classes moved online this March, James and other DCLC instructors were able to use News for You Online, which was provided through a ProLiteracy Mobile Learning Fund Grant to the Literacy Council.

The timing of the grant turned out to be extra-helpful, given that DCLC interrupted all in-person learning on March 13, 2020, in accordance with Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home orders to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Since March 13, DCLC Teachers have been holding their classes in basic literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL), and GED preparation online. DCLC’s volunteer tutors have also been reaching out to their adult students via online video platforms, video chats, and by telephone. News for You Online has come in handy during this shift in instruction.

According to ESL Teacher James Stein, News for You Online is “easy to use during online classes since I can screen-share it and make use of the online features, such as the interactive article exercises. Sometimes I assign homework based on the Teacher’s Guide or we use it as a basis for class discussion. I like that there have been several articles related to COVID-19, which is on everyone’s minds. Reading them gives students a chance to share their concerns as well as learn some new information about it.”

Volunteer Tutor Peter Matthews used News for You Online with the two students he tutors in basic literacy. He describes a recent online session: “We spent a little more than an hour on two articles, reading them aloud and doing the exercises together.”

DCLC’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jenn Kacimi sees great value in the free online resource, explaining, “This has really been helpful to our teachers and tutors, especially with the move to online instruction.”

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.

Literacy Student Wins Essay Contest; Celebrates Virtually

Ann Dziuba Accepts Award

Press Release of July 8, 2020

Anna Dziuba, essay winner
DCLC student Anna Dziuba of Media won $200 in Sun East Federal Credit Union’s “People Helping People” essay contest. Anna (short for her given name, Ganna) wrote an essay describing how she volunteered to help homeless children in Ukraine. Here Anna poses with her winning certificate.

“Nowadays good news is like a treasure!” exclaimed Anna Dziuba when she learned she had won $200 for her essay on helping homeless children in Ukraine.

The announcement came via an online Zoom call with her English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC), Robert Lee. Like so many students, Anna has been adapting to online learning after her DCLC intermediate ESL class moved from in-person to virtual classes this spring.

Anna was one of several DCLC students who participated in the “People Helping People” contest, sponsored by Sun East Federal Credit Union. The contest asks students to write about volunteering and its impact on their life. Sun East Federal Credit Union provides a generous $200 prize to the writer of the winning essay.

Anna wrote about her involvement in a program in Ukraine called “To Help is so Easy.” As Anna explains in her essay, “Brave and enthusiastic people were looking for kids on streets; [they] spent weeks to build a trust and convince kids to make a first step to a new life.” Anna has remained involved in the program, even after leaving Ukraine and immigrating to the U.S. She is quick to highlight the importance of volunteering, saying it is an “important piece of my life and helped change my life values.” As she states in her essay, “Each effort counts. Share your kindness, anyone deserves a second chance for a better life.”

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills to thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.

Congresswoman Scanlon Visits Literacy Classrooms

Mary Gay Scanlon and literacy students

Press Release of January 23, 2020

Literacy Students ask questions of U.S. Congress Member Mary Gay Scanlon.
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon hears about students’ goals and answers questions about the role of a Congress member during a recent visit to an ESL classroom at the Delaware County Literacy Council.

Adult students from the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) received a firsthand lesson in civics when U.S. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon visited their classes this week.

Scanlon visited three English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and one GED® preparation class, talking with students about their goals and answering questions about her role representing the Fifth Congressional District in Pennsylvania.

In a GED® preparation class, Scanlon listened to adults as they shared what they hoped to do once they earned their GED®, such as become a social worker, start a business, or enroll in college.

She congratulated the students for their efforts, saying, “You’re here. You’re taking steps to reach your goals.”

In an intermediate ESL class, Scanlon was asked about her history of helping immigrants.

Scanlon mentioned that before being elected, she spent 15 years helping immigrants with legal concerns. She cited immigration issues as “one of the reasons I ran for office.”

Scanlon also answered questions about her role as a Congress member, saying “My job is to represent the people, the 715,000 people who live in the district.”

In her remarks to students, Scanlon emphasized the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, which launches on April 1st. “We’re working really hard to make sure everybody fills out the census, which counts citizens, noncitizens, and children, because so much of our public funding goes through the census,” she explained.

In addition to classroom visits, Scanlon also learned about DCLC’s programs and funding streams from Kate McGeever, Executive Director of DCLC. DCLC’s classes and employment services for local adults are funded by the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Scanlon’s classroom visits generated lots of excitement and discussion about the functions of government among DCLC’s adult students.

“I enjoyed seeing her. She is a strong woman who is working hard for us,” said Olga Popova of Aston, an ESL student who is originally from Russia.

The Delaware County Literacy Council helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills to thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.