About the KLC
50 years ago, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) began its work of empowering adults to reach their full potential by providing free adult literacy services. The organization has grown and changed substantially since 1974 when a small group of local residents answered a public call in the newspaper to help adults learn to read. Today, the KLC has 155 active tutors helping 517 adults in need of literacy instruction. Our ESL of Southwest Michigan program serves more than 130 immigrants and refugees helping them become empowered as parents, employees, and community members. The Parent Literacy Together program in collaboration with the Adult Education and Training Program at Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan has reached nearly 200 parents helping them become more confident and capable first-teachers of their children. Jobseekers come to the KLC weekly to gain employment skills through the JOBS Program in collaboration with Michigan Works Southwest and Goodwill Industries.
The KLC is the host agency for the Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway, which has helped more than 50 residents, including adult learners from our programs, get jobs that pay a living wage as Early Learning Professionals. This past year, the KLC collaborated with Western Michigan University to envision the Edison neighborhood as a learning neighborhood through the EDISON: EDucation IS ON Project. It is efforts like these that have allowed the KLC to be the preeminent messenger and advocate for adult literacy with a growing faculty of dedicated and talented tutors and instructors. This is quite impressive for a “volunteer-led, staff-supported organization” that is leading the charge to achieve a fully literate community.
The KLC supports the Declaration for the Right to Literacy and boldly proclaims that Everyone Needs to Read to excel at work, teach their kids, and keep their family healthy. This year, the staff, Board, partners, and volunteers look forward to making strides to achieve our vision of a fully literate community. We will reflect on the accomplishments the KLC has achieved over the past 50 years and lay the foundation for the future. We are committed to creating lasting and permanent change for the cause of adult literacy and the adult learners and families we serve.
The KLC is the only organization in Kalamazoo County with the exclusive purpose of providing free basic literacy instruction to adults. Since its inception, it has been the leading voice for the cause of adult literacy, mobilizing, and training volunteer tutors to teach struggling adult readers throughout the county.
about the artist: Paul sizer
In 2022, the KLC partnered with Paul Sizer, a Kalamazoo-based and internationally renowned illustrator and designer, to create visuals for the Everyone Needs To Read Public Awareness Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to drive awareness of the cause of adult literacy through the portrayals of empowered KLC learner voices. The images will be used in a widespread marketing initiative including our annual campaign, website, and social media. We are honored to work with Paul as he lends his artistic talents to our efforts to make Kalamazoo County a fully literate community. Learn more about Paul and see his work at www.paulsizer.com.
community literacy fellowship
The WMU/KLC Community Literacy Fellowship is offered to faculty members and graduate students across multiple disciplines to work in collaboration with community experts in adult literacy and education to develop concrete community/university strategies that will improve the state of adult literacy in the region. Learn more about the fellowship and how to apply.
2020 Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence recipient Lawanda White cites part of her motivation for coming to the KLC: “I wanted to read to my son. I wanted to teach him.”
Mission: Enhance the lives of adults by improving their reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension skills
Vision: Empower adults to reach their full potential
For over 40 years, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council has provided free literacy services to adults in Kalamazoo County. Our story began with a group of passionate residents who wanted to make a difference in the lives of adults who struggle to read.
1974 – KLC Founded
The KLC was founded by local residents in response to a public call for adult reading tutors. After tutoring independently and meeting informally for four years, members formed a charter organization and elected officers.
1984 – New Councils in Eastern Michigan
A flourishing KLC joined an effort to establish new literacy councils on the east side of Michigan.
1986 to 1995 – Involvement in Literacy Network
From 1986 to 1995, the KLC played a significant role in the Literacy Network, a state-funded initiative to coordinate community literacy needs.
2007 to 2008 – Start of Strategic Planning
The KLC began a strategic planning process to build capacity within the organization with funding from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Dorothy Dalton U. Foundation, and the John E. Fetzer Institute. The KLC shifted from an all-volunteer group to an organization with a professional staff and governing board to better meet its mission.
2010 – Partner with Goodwill Industries
The KLC formed a collaboration with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan to strengthen the adult literacy services provided in the areas, and received a three-year grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.
Hire of Full-Time Director
A full-time executive director, Michael D. Evans, was hired to strengthen adult literacy services and to establish the Adult Literacy Collaborative (ALC) of Kalamazoo County. The ALC meets monthly, and serves as the venue for determining adult literacy priorities, identifying and expanding resources, and aligning services and programs.
2011 – Developed the Community Literacy Center (CLC) Model
Launched the Everyone Needs To Read Public Awareness Campaign
- Developed Literacy Advocate Orientation
- Created PSAs, posters, and other media items to promote adult literacy
2012 – Joined The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo as the Adult Learning Action Network (ALAN)
Started the Read and Seed community garden
2013 – Launched the ExpressWays 2 Success program (GED)
2014 – Celebrated the KLC’s 40th Anniversary
2015 – Launched Southwest Michigan Community Literacy Initiative – Phase I through the Region 8 Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI)
- Established Adult Literacy Research and Training Symposium in collaboration with WMU
- 22 Community Literacy Centers supported in the region
- ESL of Southwest Michigan (formerly Portage ESL) supported by RPI
2016 – Received Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Funding
Hosted first Summer ESL Program at Westwood United Church
2017 – Adopted ESL of Southwest Michigan as an ongoing program of the KLC
Developed the Job Opportunity & Basic Skills (JOBS) curriculum
Hosted first Navigation Strategies Workshop in collaboration with Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan and Kalamazoo Adult Education
Presented the first Everyone Needs to Read: A Literacy Vision for Kalamazoo County class with the WMU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Established the Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence
2018 – Launched Southwest Michigan Community Literacy Initiative – Phase II through the Region 8 Regional Prosperity Initiative
- Distance Learning Network established at eight sites
2019 – Launched Southwest Michigan Community Literacy Initiative – Capstone through the Region 8 Regional Prosperity Initiative
- Distance Learning Network expanded to 12 sites
- Celebrated 5th Annual Adult Literacy Research and Training Symposium
Led the Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change (PSE) project in Edison
2020 – Launched the KLC Virtual Learning Center
Launched Parent Literacy Together program in collaboration with Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan, the WMU McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic, and seven other community partners
2021 – Established the Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway
2024 – Celebrated 50 years of empowering adult learners!
Kalamazoo Literacy Council
Engagement Officer, Bronson Health Foundation
Immediate Past President
Attorney-Referee, Kalamazoo 9th Judicial Court
Retired CFO, Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan
Fiscal Specialist/Office Manager, Samaritas
Lizbeth Mendoza Pineda
Faculty-led Coordinator/HILL Grant Staff Administrator, Kalamazoo College
Relationship Development Manager, Arbor Financial Credit Union
Assistant Director of Internships, Western Michigan University
Director of Education and Career Development, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kalamazoo
Deveta Gardner, Ph.D.
Associate Dean, Merze Tate College, Western Michigan University
Holistic Coach and Bio-Magnets Therapist
Outreach Librarian, Portage District Library
Marketing Coordinator, AVB
Head, Youth Services, Kalamazoo Public Library
Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy.
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