Buddy Amos Founders Award Honors Literacy Connects Founder

CFSA will honor Betty Stauffer, Founder of Literacy Connects, as the recipient of the Buddy Amos Founders Award. She will receive her award at CFSA’s Annual Event on May 27, 2021.

Created in 2015 in honor of Buddy Amos, a CFSA Founder, the Buddy Amos Founders Award has been honoring inspirational founders of local nonprofits in Southern Arizona. Each year, nominations are submitted by anyone familiar with the nominee, and the recipient is selected by a review committee.

As this year’s recipient, Betty has created a lasting impact on the Southern Arizona community through her work at Literacy Connects. In the letter nominating her, Betty was described as someone who, “…has tirelessly advocated for social justice through supporting education and promoting literacy. Her passion has brought staff, volunteers, learners, and funders together with a common goal, and thanks to her vision, Literacy Connects has grown into a high-impact, financially sound organization.”

Literacy Connects was founded in 2011 after a Tucson Regional Town Hall, hosted by CFSA, identified increasing literacy levels as the single best way to ensure a prosperous economy and an improved quality of life for everyone in Tucson. Five local organizations, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, Literacy for Life Coalition, Reading Seed, Stories that Soar!, and Reach out and Read Southern Arizona, who together represented nearly 100 years of nonprofit experience, came together to form this new organization in the hopes of shining a brighter light on the need for strong literacy programs in the community.

Betty, then Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, became the Founding Director of Literacy Connects. The mission of Literacy Connects is to open a world of possibilities to people of all ages through literacy and creative arts programs.

Under Betty’s leadership, the organization grew in leaps and bounds and planted deep roots in the community. In 2014 Literacy Connects found a permanent home when it purchased its current campus on Yavapai Road, nestled in the heart of the Amphi District, and began renovations to make it the welcoming place for learners that it is today.

2017 brought the sale of the land to the west of Habitat for Humanity for the creation of the Minton Court neighborhood, as well as a partnership with the International Rescue Committee on the Literacy Garden to the east. The final phase of renovations was completed in 2019, when the Youth Center at Literacy Connects opened its doors.

In January 2021, after leading the team in a total pivot as all services shifted online, Betty retired, leaving a legacy of growth, community, and love of literacy with the organization and Tucson. Since its founding, Literacy Connects has served upwards of 55,000 learners a year in partner locations and schools across the city, as well as on its own campus. The organization thrives thanks to the support of dedicated volunteers who make the work possible.

Reflecting on her work at Literacy Connects, Betty shared, “The work I did over the years to create and build Literacy Connects was driven by my desire to bring literacy improvement opportunities to more adults and children in Pima County. I believe that strong literacy skills open all sorts of opportunities for people that they would otherwise miss…I am so pleased that I retire leaving Tucson a bit better than when I arrived in 2000.”

It is people like Betty who allow Southern Arizona to continue to be a vibrant and welcoming community for all. Mark Montoya, Interim President & CEO of CFSA, shared, “We could not think of a more deserving recipient of the Buddy Amos Founders Award. Betty has demonstrated true inspirational leadership here in Southern Arizona through promoting literacy to make a more equitable community.”

To learn more about the Buddy Amos Founders Award and see a complete list of past recipients, please visit cfsaz.org/awards.