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.
“Michigan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country,” said Dr. Wendy Falb, Literacy Center of West Michigan executive director. “Addressing the literacy needs of families is necessary if we are going to change our current outcomes.”
The Literacy Center’s Family Literacy program provides literacy instruction to 240 parents in partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools, and Godfrey Lee Public Schools. Family Literacy Program AmeriCorps members assist parents, who in most cases do not speak English as their first language, in improving their own language and literacy skills, increasing the use of literacy-related activities, and more effectively engaging with their children’s education.
AmeriCorps members teach the classes and implement monthly Family Activity Nights where parents and children read together and learn literacy activities that they can do at home.
“Schools cannot do it alone,” said Falb. “By AmeriCorps members giving a year of their life in service to our Family Literacy program, they are making a significant difference in our state.”
Now in its 11th year, the Family Literacy program provides classroom-based literacy instruction to parents at nine sites. The Literacy Center of West Michigan has the largest Family Literacy program in the state of Michigan, and one of the largest in the country. Philanthropic dollars ensure that there is no cost to the learners, which includes free childcare during class times.
“This is impactful, life-changing work for everyone—parents, children, and the AmeriCorps members themselves,” said Johana Rodriguez Quist, Literacy Center of West Michigan Family Literacy program director.