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Published: Monday, 7/21/2003

Urban League ends year with $10,000 deficit


The sluggish economy and cuts in state and federal funding took their toll on the Greater Toledo Urban League this year as the organization finished in the red and cut back its 2004 budget projections.

Johnny Mickler, president and chief operating officer, said Urban League finished with a $10,000 deficit. Mr. Mickler said cutbacks to its employment and job training programs were the major causes for the shortfall.

The league faced a $104,000 shortfall before it laid off two people and cut back hours in five other positions, he said.

“It was a tough year,” Mr. Mickler said. “We didn't get the money we expected. If it wasn't for the business community stepping up, it would have been worse. The state is still looking at its budget, so this year will be tight as well.”

The league's board of directors recently passed a $947,000 budget for 2003-04, which started in July, at its annual meeting, slightly less than the $953,831 the league closed its books with this past fiscal year.

He said the league's staff is charged with raising $190,000 of that money through fund-raisers and pledges. Mr. Mickler said that, because of the economy, pledges have become a less reliable source of revenue.

“You have those who will pledge, but because things are so hard now, you don't know if they will be able to come through,” Mr. Mickler said.

Mr. Mickler said cutbacks in the job placement services department comes at a difficult time because the league serves minority groups that need those services most in a bad economy.

James Hartung, urban league chairman, couldn't be reached for comment last week.

Mr. Mickler said despite the struggles, some of the league's programs continued to grow. The STRIVE program tutored 250 children in the state proficiency tests this summer. For the last seven years, Toledo Police Officer Flo Wormely has led STRIVE, a program of the league and the Afro-American Patrolman's Association.

Students were tutored for six weeks and were able to take the proficiency tests this week.

“This is a no-nonsense program and it gives seniors and other high school kids an extra chance at passing the proficiency test,” Officer Wormely said. “It's grown every year because there's a need for it.”

Mr. Mickler said the league also has one of its largest turnouts, about 150 kids, for its summer basketball league at Smith Park this year.

He said youth ages 10 to 13 formed eight boys' and six girls' basketball teams. He said the program will run through August.

He said through the basketball league, coaches and instructors have been able to introduce players to other youth programs, such as STRIVE.

Mr. Mickler said he plans to attend the National Urban League conference July 26-30 in Pittsburgh.

The national group will usher in a new president, Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans. Longtime league President Hugh B. Price retired.

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