Talking Stick Learning Center is a service group of Mt. Airy Community Services Corporation (MACSC), a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to serve as a stable financial umbrella for nonprofit groups serving the Northwest section of the city of Philadelphia.
Talking Stick began in 2006 as the initiative of Katie O’Connor with the help of a few other individuals. Since that time, we have grown tremendously. We have always covered the majority of our expenses through tuition. Since accessibility is one of our core values, we strive to do whatever we can to keep expenses low. For example, most of our supplies are donated, or are culled inexpensively from thrift stores or garage sales.
Even so, we often run a small deficit.
Our biggest expense is salary. (Please see our budget breakdownon this page.) Because of our emphasis on self-directed learning, a high ratio of facilitators to young people is absolutely essential. We always have one facilitator for seven young people in the 10 and under program, because this is how many adults it takes to enable the young people to engage in their own learning and exploration safely and with adequate supervision and support.
Because of our emphasis on respectful communication and conflict resolution, it matters a lot who these facilitators are. Each of our eight facilitators have been carefully chosen and trained. Many are highly credentialed professionals in various fields. All have extensive experience with facilitating self-directed learning. The words the facilitators use with the young people are carefully chosen. The activities that they bring have been well thought-out to encourage open-ended exploration.
When we do not have adequate funds to cover all of our expenses, we are forced to delay or even forgo paying our staff. Unfortunately, this is not a rare event. There are staff now that are donating a huge amount of time, simply because we cannot afford to pay them. In prior years, one key staff person chose not to take a salary for the entire year, simply so that we would stay out of the red.
We want to retain our excellent facilitators. We also want to pay them fairly as a matter of principle. And yet we want to make sure that our programs stay as affordable as possible. This is where fundraising comes in: all the money raised will go directly toward supporting our excellent staff.
The Talking Stick Board has committed $1,000 toward covering this deficit this spring.
Will you help us?