Kalamazoo Literacy Council

“We believe that literacy for one means change for all.” The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of illiterate adults through free one-on-one programs designed to develop reading, writing and spelling skills. Through the council’s efforts we hope to also educate the public about the crisis of illiteracy and bring together a community with a common goal of making Kalamazoo County 100 percent literate. For 40 years the KLC has recruited, trained and equipped volunteers to tutor adults in need of literacy services. Currently, the KLC has 186 active tutors assisting 265 adults in need of literacy education. It has established 10 Community Literacy Centers that provide quality adult literacy services at the neighborhood level. It has built a functional community-wide collaborative whose collective work has positive impacts on a local, regional and state level. The agencies of the Adult Literacy Collaborative of Kalamazoo County led by the KLC are serving more than 1,700 adult learners who are reading below the 6th grade level. The KLC is now the preeminent messenger and advocate for adult literacy in Kalamazoo County. In Kalamazoo County, over 25,000 people or 13% of adults cannot read a simple story to a child, an intersection on a map, a prescription label, or total purchases from an order form. They struggle daily to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as parents, community members, and employees because they lack basic reading skills. To make some demonstrable progress in this area, the KLC and its collaborating organizations have set a goal of collectively reaching no less than 20% annually (approximately 5,000) within three years, with increasing numbers served each year beyond. To achieve this, the KLC launched the ENT-R (Everyone Needs to Read) Adult Literacy Initiative in January 2011 to mobilize new and existing community assets to build a comprehensive system that provides literacy education to adults in the county and strengthens and sustains the administrative and programmatic infrastructure that provides these services.