News & Blog


WEST MICHIGAN – Today, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) announced more than $1 million of the $15 million MI Impact Grant program was awarded to Literacy Center of West Michigan. The grant, made available to Michigan’s large nonprofits who provide programming to lift people out of poverty, will allow the nonprofit to expand employment and training services to build a more skilled workforce in Kent County.

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) today announced the Literacy Center of West Michigan is the lead partner in creating a 60x30 Family Learning Community in West Michigan. In the months ahead, the Literacy Center of West Michigan will work with the NCFL, local families and more than 20 community partners to align programmatic goals and coordinate efforts to provide family literacy, engagement and leadership opportunities to historically underserved and marginalized families within the community. 

Yilin Wendland-Liu, Ph.D., the Literacy Center's Adult Tutoring Program director, has been selected as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellow! This prestigious program is dedicated to empowering local leaders to drive transformational social change in their communities.

Blog Author: Iryna Kalenskaya , Literacy Center Learner 

"Hello.  My name is Iryna. I’m from Ukraine. I lived in a big industrial city of Zaporizhzhia.   I had a stable and peaceful life with my family. There are four of us. I have two kids. My daughter is 13 years-old and son is 11 years-old. I worked as a cosmetologist at the salon. I loved my job.

One day, the war comes into my country. It was the worsen day in my life.  Thousands of lives were destroyed. To protect my kids and my parents I decided to move to the USA. My husband stays in Ukraine. My sister lives in Grand Rapids. That’s why we came here.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – May 26, 2023 – The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded the Literacy Center of West Michigan a $10,000 grant to support adult literacy. This local grant is a part of the Foundation’s largest, one-day literacy donation of more than $13 million throughout the 47 states in which Dollar General operates to support adult, family, and summer literacy programs.

ZEELAND, Mich. – December 2, 2022 – The Literacy Center of West Michigan today announced the completion of an onsite Customized Workplace English program at global design leader MillerKnoll. The 15-week class reduced English language literacy as a barrier for 11 MillerKnoll associates by providing contextual English language instruction using a tailored curriculum based on their specific workplace.

Leaving home is never easy. Imagine making the difficult decision to leave behind everything that is familiar—people, places, culture, and language—to start fresh someplace new. This was the decision facing Yaina Mitchell in 2009. While she didn’t want to leave her home in the Dominican Republic, she felt that the United States would give her access to more opportunities and her young children a chance at a better life.

 Victor Holt is the Latest Addition to the Board!

Victor is currently an Assistant Vice President, Financial Center Manager, for Fifth Third Bank's Main Office in Downtown Grand Rapids.

 The Literacy Center of West Michigan welcomes our newest board member, Monica Mendez from the Grand Rapids Chamber!

 Fung Tial and her tutor Sarabeth Carr have been working together since September 2019. Her tutor encouraged her to write an essay to practice her English, and so she chose to write about an important piece of culture from her home country (Burma). 

Nash Hirwa has joined the team as the Citizenship and Community ESL Coordinator.

"My passion for education comes from living in different communities and countries. I was raised in a small country in East Africa. Growing up my parents traveled a lot for work and that allowed me to learn 5 languages before I was 15.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – October 19, 2022 – The Literacy Center of West Michigan today announced it is the recipient of a $300,000 federal grant from the department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The funding will support the citizenship-based English as a second language (ESL) instruction and naturalization application services for 200 adults over a two-year period. The Literacy Center of West Michigan is partnering with Immigrant Connection at City Life Church to conduct the naturalization application services.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – October 18, 2022 – The Literacy Center of West Michigan today announced that Maleika Joubert Brown, Ed.S., has been appointed to its 13-member board. Brown currently serves as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Brown officially was voted in at the Literacy Center of West Michigan board meeting on Wednesday, September 28, for a term expiring September 27, 2025.

 Guest Contributor

My name is Tyler Archambault, and I am a recent graduate from Northern Michigan University who started tutoring for the Literacy Center to fulfill the internship requirement for part of my undergraduate degree. Prior to tutoring English for the Literacy Center, I have also tutored students in German and Mandarin Chinese.

The Literacy Center of West Michigan today announced it is the recipient of a $110,000 Wege Foundation grant. The funding is being used to expand its Family Literacy Program (FLP). The program teaches parents the language and literacy skills they need to support their child’s education and strengthen the connection between home and school.

Bryan Salinas is a first-generation Marketing graduate from Ferris State University. He was born in McAllen, TX, but was raised most of his life in Holland, MI.

Marcus Little is a southern California native who has called West Michigan home along with his family (wife Kelsey, children Calvin, Eva and Joey, and overly entitled dog Patrice) since 2014.

Written by Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator

“My motto has been and continues to be ‘progress (toward literacy) by the inch is cinch, by the yard is hard,'” volunteer tutor Terry Weinburger shares. 

Kee Hnin, a learner in the Literacy Center’s tutoring program, came to the United States with her family just before the pandemic began. Kee and her husband have three children. It was through a Kent County Head Start home visitor that Kee first learned about the Literacy Center’s tutoring program.

It is a well-known fact that construction has a history of being a male-dominated field. In fact, women make up only 11% of the construction workforce in the United States. For women like Patricia, the ability to see herself using power tools and hammers was a process of unlearning cultural norms.

Growing up Patricia only saw men in her family building things. “We thought we weren’t allowed to touch [tools], it’s men’s business” Patricia said.

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