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Community Literacy Initiative

The Community Literacy Initiative (CLI) is a literacy coalition that empowers community leaders, parents, and residents to improve literacy for all ages in West Michigan.

For references to the data points in this video, please see the notes section on YouTube.

CLI is a new formation of the coalition formerly known as Greater Grand Rapids Reads. The Literacy Center of West Michigan is honored to facilitate CLI, to provide staffing and resources to the work of the coalition, and to collaborate with volunteers who were involved with the coalition in the past.

CLI is currently funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation. The coalition targeted the Central and West Hope Zone neighborhoods during its pilot year (2011-2012), then expanded to include the East Hope Zone (2012-2013), the South Hope Zone (2013-2014), and now has begun work in the West Grand Neighborhood (2014-2015).  We partner with community organizations to ensure coordination of efforts in the Hope Zones.

  • "I came here to make a better life for my kids and now I want to make a better life for myself too. I took English classes for two years but when child care was no longer available, I had to stop. Then I found out about the Literacy Center from my kids’ school, but I had to wait a year to get my tutor. Now that my kids are older I have more time to continue my studies. Now I hope to earn my GED.” -Nerida, a learner
    My favorite part about tutoring would have to be meeting new and interesting people. They’ve all had very different life experiences from my own, even if they’re native to Grand Rapids! I get to learn about a way of life completely different from anything I’ve even imagined.” -Nancy, a tutor since 2004
    "I am working on reading and writing skills. Alice encourages me to spell and speak vowels correctly. She helps me a lot. I like to read short books and stories.” -Marlin, a learner
    "I rely on my tutor to help me each week with vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, reading and listening. In one of my classes she taught me how to write a check and how to write it in the ledger. My tutor, is more than just my teacher, she is my friend." -Silvia, a language learner
    “I am truly grateful for my tutor’s patience and understanding of my dyslexia.” -Learner
    “One of our EL/Civics learners passed his citizenship test a couple of weeks ago! His hard work truly paid off but he does not plan to stop there-he is now hoping to be paired with a tutor and continue working on his English skills. We are very proud of him!” -Language Instructor
    “Yo pienso que como estamos aprendiendo es una manera fácil y sencilla de aprender inglés.” -Language Learner
    “It’s been a lot more than just a tutor/learner relationship. I have come to love this young woman.” -Tutor
    “Do you want a community where college graduates are eager to live, where opportunity is everywhere and poverty is declining? A community of promise and hope? The importance of literacy to the success of the community should not be underestimated.” -Mayor George Heartwell
    “On the last day of class, Maria told me that she had completed all of the goals she set the first day of class. Because of our program, Maria was able to find encouragement and confidence to learn from her peers and become a more confident citizen of Grand Rapids.” - Family Literacy Instructor
    “Sometimes I think I’m too tired [to be so involved], but when I see my kids, I think ‘that’s my life. I do this because I love them.’” -Language Learner
    “Ya puedo hablar en inglés cuando tengo que hacer una llamada por teléfono, para hacer una cita médica o ordenar algún articulo por teléfono.” -Language Learner
    “When I first came here, I only spoke a little bit of English. I asked myself, how can other people understand me if I don’t speak good English? So I started coming to the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Now my spoken English has improved and I can understand much more than before. I know it is very challenging to have four kids and study English at the same time, but I will try my best for my future.” –Language Learner
    “I want to encourage those who are learning English. With perseverance, you can achieve your dreams.” -Language Learner
    “I am so thankful for the opportunities this country has given me and for the Literacy Center for helping me achieve my goals.” -Language Learner
    “English class has helped me become more involved in my daughters’ schools, understand what their report cards mean, and talk to school staff.” -Language Learner
  • CLI Tabs

    Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
    Community Literacy Directory
    Community Literacy News
    Community Literacy Reports
    Community Literacy Summit
    External Links & Resources
    Neighborhood Literacy Forums
    Read Aloud 15 Minutes
    What is Literacy?
    Who We Are
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