The close of each year brings with it the annual roundup of headline news.
Topping the list of 2011 news stories in Pennsylvania: the sex abuse scandal at Penn State, severe flooding that damaged scores of communities across the state and the controversy over Marcellus Shale drilling.
What about the damage done to nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations by grueling budget cuts imposed by Gov. Corbett and the legislature?
Hardly made-for-TV news, but no less devastating to those who rely on their services.
We were struck this morning by the tragic story this morning about the shuttering of a small, but clearly impactful education center, located in a place we'd barely heard of.
The Valley News of Tarentum (northeast of Pittsburgh) reports that the Alle-Kiski Center closed its doors in November.
Why?
It lost its entire annual budget - $225,000 - in the state budget cuts and was unable to raise the money elsewhere.
The center brought the gift of a high school diploma to hundreds adults every year through its GED program. Another segment of its 400 students each year gained new skills to use in their current jobs.
The United Way of Pennsylvania recently completed a statewide survey of charitable groups to gauge the impact of budget cuts.
Of the 800 nonprofits that responded, 69 percent said their funding from the state had been reduced. Of those who received cuts, 45 percent experienced reductions of 10 percent or greater.
To address the cuts 27 percent have decreased program hours, 32 percent have canceled programs completely, and 52 percent have furloughed staff, adding to the state's unemployment rolls.

The cuts come as demand for services increased, writes Joe Capita, chief executive officer of United Way of the Capital Region in the Patriot-News. Ten percent of the groups reported receiving more calls for help this past year.

The Alle-Kiski center is hoping to partner with Comcast to keep alive its television studio, which has been operated by a parttime employee and serves as a distance learning medium for students.
The center's director, Mary Jendrey, wants to find a way to come back to life one day.
"Of all the people who came to get their GED's, 97 percent were able to accomplish that," she said. "That's a pretty great rate. I think we've been a valuable piece of educational and economic development in the Valley.
"I hope we can be again."
 

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