News & Blog: Community

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 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!

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.

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.

Stephen Osborn will be recognized as our 2022 Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year at the Literacy Center's Spellebration event on March 23, 2022

Stephen Osborn understands the challenges of navigating a new country. Born in remote South America to missionary parents, Stephen did not live in the United States until he was 16. As he wrote in his original Literacy Center volunteer application in 2015, that experience gave him a special place in my heart for people learning English.”

Latesha Lipscomb is receiving the Literacy Center's 2022 Ledy Award for Community Engagement [sponsored by Fifth Third Bank] at our Spellebration event on March 23, 2022. 

Latesha Lipscomb is a Grand Rapids change agent. As a community activist, entrepreneur, public speaker, and mother, Latesha has made it her mission to build bridges and create inclusive, welcoming environments in her hometown.

Minnie Morey is the recipient of this year's Champion of Literacy Award [sponsored by Comerica Bank]. Minnie will receive the award at this year's Spellebration event on March 23, 2022. 

Minnie Morey is the kind of person who sees a need, steps up, and leads the way toward addressing it. For decades now, Minnie has championed the rich gifts brought to West Michigan by the immigrants and refugees from Asian countries. As a volunteer, an activist, and Executive Director of the West Michigan Asian American Association (WMAAA), Minnie has made it her mission to help remove the barriers that New Americans face in this country. George Aquino, Vice President/Managing Director of AHC+ Hospitality, writes of Minnie, “this petite woman is a GIANT in the Asian American community in the state.”

The Literacy Center is partnering with several businesses and organizations in West Michigan to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) training for its employees.

Written by Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator 

The Literacy Center of West Michigan's Community Literacy Initiative (CLI) is winding down, but its collaborative work on literacy remains.  

The Literacy Center of West Michigan has been named as a finalist in the U.S. Department of Education’s $750,000 Rethink Adult Education Challenge, a national competition to advance pre-apprenticeship programs. The organization is one of five finalists from Michigan and the only one from outside metro Detroit. The Literacy Center’s proposal creates a career pathway for Latinas to enter the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades by providing English instruction, workplace readiness and skills training.   

In August, the Literacy Center of West Michigan welcomed Dr. Yilin Wendland-Liu as the new director of the Adult Tutoring Program (ATP). In her role, she leads the founding program of the Literacy Center—one that is designed to connect community members who have a desire to improve their English and literary skills with volunteer tutors. The pairs work one-on-one to address the learner’s personal goals. 

Having been a college professor for several years, teaching Mandarin and Chinese literature, history, culture and, at times, East Asia  culture, Yilin understands the challenges and successes  adult learners face in learning a new language. Speaking of her experience with college students learning a second language, she says, “I think one of the most rewarding moments for me as a language teacher was seeing how some of the students came in with zero background in Chinese language, in Mandarin, and then towards the end of the year, being able to conduct a conversation, speak the language, engage in daily conversation, write simple compositions, and understand.”

Written by Libby Wahlstrom, Development Director, & Cynthia Salinas, Communication Coordinator & FLP Instructor

66362871 2404157849647336 2846880043785781248 nIn the summer of 2019, hundreds of families gathered each week in local parks for family-friendly literacy events. Special guests read stories aloud, local ice cream and food vendors gave away summer treats, and every child who attended received a brand new, age-appropriate book each week. By all accounts, Storytime in the Park was a huge success. 

The idea for Storytime in the Park came many years earlier from Barbara Lubic, a professor at Grand Valley State University. She and her friend Barbara Bush—a local ice cream shop owner—wanted to do something to celebrate the parks and the community in the summer. They decided to give away books and ice cream at weekly summer gatherings in Garfield Park. What began with 50 attendees 11 years ago has turned into something far greater. 

Written by Wendy Falb, Ph.D., Executive Director

95627669 10157382148127634 5095981286569279488 o copyAs summer draws to a close, the Literacy Center is in the midst of planning for our most unusual—and important—year of programming yet. Because we know that COVID-19 has only deepened the disparities caused by low literacy, we have pushed hard to innovate in this new environment so that we can not only sustain our support of adult literacy, but expand and improve how we meet this crucial need in our community. 

The Literacy Center is taking the following steps to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • The Literacy Center's office is closed at this time. All staff are working remotely and accessible via email. With general questions, contact info@literacycenterwm.org
  • Our Spellebration event originally planned for March 26, 2020 will be a virtual event held on June 4, 2020.  
  • Remote learning resources will be posted on social media and sent via email as they become available.

We will continue to keep our website and social media updated. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at info@literacycenterwm.org or via Facebook.

El Literacy Center ha tomado las siguientes medidas para limitar la propagación de COVID-19:

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The Community Literacy Summit will be held on Friday, Feb. 28 from 7:30 AM- 2:00 PM at the GVSU Eberhard Center in downtown Grand Rapids. The half day event will address the language and literacy development in young children ages birth to five, specifically those that lead to kindergarten readiness and grade level reading. Below are a listing of the 10 Summit breakouts offered during two sessions. Register for the event today

 The Literacy Center's Annual Community Literacy Summit, Ready to Read, Ready to Succeed: Developing Literacy Birth to Five, will be held on Friday, February 28, 2020 from 7:30 am- 2:00 pm at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center. Tickets are available at www.literacycenterwm.org/summit2020

The Literacy Center's staff and Summit planning committee spent many, many hours researching keynote speakers for our 2020 Summit. One name (well, more like one TEDx Talk) rose above the rest. Dr. Keisha Siriboe impressed everyone with her dynamic presentation style, and her depth of knowledge on early childhood literacy and parent-child reading aloud. 

The Literacy Center of West Michigan received the Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding National Service Program for its work in improving adult literacy through its Family Literacy program. The award was presented to the Literacy Center of West Michigan by Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission at a ceremony on Thursday, September 5 at the Detroit Opera House.  

Johana Rodriguez Quist Hired as Family Literacy Program Director

The Literacy Center of West Michigan is pleased to announce Johana Rodriguez Quist as the new director of its Family Literacy ProgramJohana Rodriguez Office Shot 2018, a program that strengthens the connection between home and school by addressing the literacy needs of adults in children’s lives.

“Our Family Literacy Program aligns parents’ education with what their children are learning in the classroom,” said Dr. Wendy Falb, executive director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan. “Johana’s experience supporting parents in the public schools gives her a deep understanding of the need for teaching parents the language skills necessary to break the generational cycle of low literacy.”

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One thing is clear from West Michigan business owners: the labor market is tight. With an unemployment rate of 4% as of January 2018, employers are actively searching for innovative ways to attract and retain talent. Irwin Seating Company, a Grand Rapids-based manufacturing company, was no exception. They had a number of temporary employees without GEDs or diplomas who had applied for permanent employment, but were unable to get past the interview stage due to their literacy barriers.

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