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Literacy Through Learning

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council Teach In

In today’s world, the ability to read is a necessary part of our day-to-day routines. This week, we will learn more about a Promise Partner whose goal has been to improve literacy within our community.

Founded in 1974, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals in Kalamazoo County by providing the structure and support to increase reading, writing, comprehension, and spelling abilities.

Having previously worked as a writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette and with several nonprofits in the Battle Creek area, Executive Director Michael D. Evans was drawn to the KLC by the lasting impact it has on the community.

“My initial interest for getting involved with the organization came from the KLC’s ability to achieve a permanent solution, rather than a temporary solution, meaning once people learn to read, they can pass that onto generations,” he shared. “Literacy is the root solution to many of our community’s challenges and is ingrained in everything we do and everywhere we go.”

Kalamzoo Literacy Council Tecia

In order to achieve these solutions, the KLC provides services that welcome, support, empower, and focus on the needs of the participants. Programs including #EveryoneNeedsToRead, ESL (English as a Second Language), One-On-One Tutoring, Small Group Instruction and Classes, and ExpressWays 2 Success exemplify KLC’s diverse offerings. Additionally, classes and tutoring are offered through the nonprofit’s Virtual Learning Center.

“We assembled our virtual options into one place in part because of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Evans explained. “We have 12 classes available so our learners can study anytime, anywhere, and in any way.”

Kalamazoo Literacy Council Virtual Learning Center

KLC’s services are oriented so that their learners can establish their own specific goals, and many of the programs are designed to enable participants to achieve broader objectives. ExpressWays 2 Success focuses on the requirements for obtaining a GED and teaching digital literacy, while the main objective of #EveryoneNeedsToRead is to raise awareness regarding adult literacy and to eliminate stigmas by hosting classes and reading sessions.

“When a person achieves the ability to read, it makes a big difference,” Evans shared. “Once you have literacy you can choose what you want to learn and how you want to learn it.”

Having served as the KLC’s Executive Director for more than nine years, the greatest satisfaction for Evans is the way the nonprofit meets the goals of its learners.

“Instead of us telling people what we are going to teach them, we give them the power to learn what they want to learn,” he said. “We’ve assembled a very talented faculty of instructors that can provide computer literacy, employee, and job-centered expertise.

“When I first started, we served 49 individuals and had 55 volunteers. Now we serve close to 800 individuals with all of our programming and have around 250 volunteers.”

Kalamazoo Literacy Council Vou Chao

That is certainly a statistic to be proud of! Interested in being a part of the KLC’s mission? Volunteers are encouraged to register through the tutor training workshop on the organization’s website. In addition, please consider a financial contribution to help KLC continue to provide literacy programs and services in Kalamazoo County.

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