Educational Institutions

Sharp Literacy Inc

  • Milwaukee, WI
  • www.sharpliteracy.org

Mission Statement

SHARP Literacy enhances future life success by energizing urban children, motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands-on interaction and visual arts.

Main Programs

  1. SHARP Literacy Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

Wisconsin

Over the past 17 years SHARP Literacy has been using the visual arts to help students become capable and confident readers. SHARP has impacted over 70,000 students. The program is currently used in 34 schools in some of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods, and serves over 6,850 students and 330 educators from grades 1 through 5. Milwaukee schools face critical challenges, including minimal proficiency in literacy, major achievement gaps and low graduation rates. Over 80% percent of students enrolled in Milwaukee’s schools live in poverty, as evidenced by the numbers eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

ruling year

1999

President/CEO

Self-reported

Ms. Lynda Kohler

Keywords

Self-reported

education, literacy, visual arts, art history

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EIN

39-1963963

Also Known As

SHARP

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Education N.E.C. (B99)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

SHARP Literacy Program

SHARP materials reflect and incorporate state-mandated standards for classroom curriculum. Materials such as student and teacher workbooks are aligned with Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for math, science, social studies and language arts. The workbooks offer a variety of activities that are easy for teachers to use throughout the year as in-class and at-home assignments. SHARP students take pre- and post- vocabulary assessments to measure their comprehension of academic vocabulary related to science (grades 1 and 2) and social studies (grades 3-5). All students and teachers receive a copy of the book related to their grade level content area and a workbook that reinforces the vocabulary words and concepts presented in the core program. Students also participate in an annual Writing Challenge. Writing Challenge submissions are published by SHARP and the finished book is distributed to each participating classroom.

In 2013-14, SHARP students in grades 3-5 will develop skills that will enable them to become published authors and illustrators, and to expose them to career opportunities in the area of children’s writing and illustration. Published student books will be used as supplementary material for the We Love to Learn books that are distributed to students and teachers in the schools participating in the SHARP program.

In October 2013, teachers and principals had the opportunity to participate in the Fall Teacher In-Service to review SHARP’s core curriculum. SHARP’s curriculum and assessments are now more closely aligned with the state Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments. Participants were given a preview of SHARP’s educational tours at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Grohmann Museum. SHARP’s Writing Challenge and We Love to Learn book project were introduced. All participants were surveyed to measure program effectiveness, and adjustments will be made accordingly. Pre-assessments were administered to all SHARP and non-SHARP students. Results will be communicated to school principals, teachers and other stakeholders.

SHARP will continue to collaborate with the Milwaukee Art Museum for student educational field trips. SHARP is a network partner with Milwaukee Succeeds, dedicated to “moving the needle” for third grade literacy and school readiness. For the past three years, SHARP has participated in Marquette University’s Institute for the Transformation of Learning’s Milwaukee Summer Reading Project (MSRP). The goal of this initiative is to improve students’ reading skills and prevent summer regression. SHARP books and vocabulary assessments are used in this program that is geared for students from grades 2- 4. SHARP also has an ongoing relationship the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Engineering students from MSOE built the honey bee robot last year and are currently building a computerized weather cube this year to facilitate student learning.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children Only (5 - 14 years)

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

None

Budget

$826,708.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    SHARP Literacy enhances future life success by energizing urban children, motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands-on interaction and visual arts.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    2014-2016
    Goal 1 Expand the SHARP program
    Strategy 1 Serve 10,000 students while maintaining the integrity of the program
    Goal 2 Raise Overall Awareness of SHARP
    Strategy 1 Implement brand awareness plan
    Strategy 2 Engage and educate higher education students about the SHARP program
    Strategy 3 Become a respected resource for elementary literacy collaboration in the community
    Strategy 4 Leverage partnerships to enhance visibility by identifying organizations with ability to support mission
    Goal 3 Become a measurable and accountable organization that promotes and increases academic achievement
    Strategy 1 Align goals and measurements with mission
    Strategy 2 Assess long-term achievement
    Strategy 3 Develop an alumni initiative to determine the success of the SHARP program
    Goal 4 Maintain current level of financial soundness but increase revenue to support future growth
    Strategy 1 Increase current sources of revenue by 3-5%
    Strategy 2 Identify new revenue sources
    Strategy3 Increase board engagement in fundraising and friend raising.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The SHARP Board of Directors and Staff were instrumental in developing and approving the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan. We are fortunate to have a very engaged Board of Directors leading and supporting our organization.

    Our teachers are also very supportive and engaged. With our Teacher Summer Workshop in June and our Teacher In-Service in October, SHARP gains respect in the community. Through our We Love to Learn books, workbooks, and murals, SHARP's brand has experienced significant community exposure and recognition.

    Our funders see the results of our program and just over the past year SHARP was fortunate to partner with a number of different organizations and corporations in order to raise funds and awareness for the SHARP program. These activities include:
    The Jerseys off Their Backs raffle together with the Milwaukee Brewers wives
    Summerfest Foundation's Big Gig Dress Rehearsal
    Potawatomi Bingo and Casino's Miracle on Canal Street
    Milwaukee Zoological Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters Milwaukee Back to School Event
    Third Annual SURG Block Party
    Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books at UW Waukesha
    Children's Outing Association's HIP (Having Involved Parents) program

    SHARP's annual fundraising event, A Novel Event, features a keynote speaker. Efforts have been successfully made to increase the caliber and renown of these guests. For example, last year's speaker was Donald Driver, and our upcoming A Novel Event will feature LeVar Burton, well-known author, actor, and literacy advocate. Both donations to SHARP and SHARP's recognition and presence in the community have increased significantly through its efforts to schedule nationally renowned speakers.

    Together with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), SHARP has built a honey bee robot to be on display at Marquette University's Haggerty Museum. Additionally, the robot is used as a learning tool for our 1st grade students.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    During the past year, SHARP has hired an independent evaluator to assess the effectiveness of the SHARP program. His research and data analysis has shown that the SHARP program has been effective. SHARP is continuing to use this valuable self-study research to validate its program. SHARP will monitor its progress by comparing with the goals and strategies that the Board of Directors has implemented. These goals include increased revenue, new revenue sources, a growing awareness of SHARP, increased student numbers, and more schools.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Our Strategic Plan was approved in November and the work began immediately.

    Accomplishments thus far have been noted and include greater presence in the community, increased funding efforts, expansion of the SHARP program in regards to staffing, numbers of students and schools, and far greater efforts to forge and maintain partnerships within the community and higher education.

    There are items still to be accomplished: Currently, MSOE and SHARP are partnering to construct a weather cube to be displayed at Discovery World in connection with SHARP's 11th We Love to Learn book, A Great Lakes Adventure: Salmon's Journey Home. Plans are also in place to create an aquaponics system together with MSOE students and Growing Power educators. This system will correlate with SHARP's upcoming 12th We Love to Learn book project that will focus on urban agriculture and ecological literacy. Additionally, SHARP would like to increase the number of students and schools it serves even more. In order to accomplish these goals, additional funding will also need to be procured, and the need for additional staff and/or presenters is also a possibility.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Wisconsin

Over the past 17 years SHARP Literacy has been using the visual arts to help students become capable and confident readers. SHARP has impacted over 70,000 students. The program is currently used in 34 schools in some of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods, and serves over 6,850 students and 330 educators from grades 1 through 5. Milwaukee schools face critical challenges, including minimal proficiency in literacy, major achievement gaps and low graduation rates. Over 80% percent of students enrolled in Milwaukee’s schools live in poverty, as evidenced by the numbers eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

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External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

SHARP LITERACY, INC.
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Sharp Literacy Inc

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

President/CEO

Ms. Lynda Kohler

BIO

In October 2012 Lynda Kohler joined SHARP Literacy, Inc. as its President & CEO at a time when the Founder and Executive Director of SHARP Literacy had announced her retirement after almost 18 years. Lynda is responsible for providing leadership, strategic direction, and the vision for the development and achievement of SHARP’s mission in partnership with the Board of Directors. She will be the chief advocate for fund raising and community presence and is responsible for the management and development of the staff. Lynda will work with the community and non-profit organizations to improve the education and lives of children and youth.

Prior to joining SHARP Literacy, Lynda was the President of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Eastern Wisconsin for almost 4 years. She was responsible for overseeing the RMHC Capital Campaign, raising over $6,000,000 in 8 months. A shining ambassador to the community, her passion for the RMHC mission made her adept at developing relationships with its prospects.

Previous to her time at RMHC, Lynda was an executive with Midwest Airlines. She served in a variety of roles during her nearly 24 year tenure there, most recently as Director of Airline Partner Services.

She has also served as the Board Chair for the Wisconsin chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and is currently on the Board and Executive Committee of VISIT Milwaukee, TAC and Wave of Hope.

Lynda is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and currently resides in Oconomowoc.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Daniel Meyer

Biz Times Media

Term: Oct 2012 - Sept 2014

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?