When COVID first began causing closures and cancellations of in-person activities, Read Muskegon was committed that no reader be left behind in the transition to virtual learning — including those in the Muskegon County Jail.
In March, all access to the jail was abruptly discontinued. The challenges were compounded because the jail had no secure system to provide access to virtual learning for the incarcerated men and women. Estimates were that in person teaching would not resume until the Fall of 2021 at the earliest. Read Muskegon remained steadfast — no reader left behind.
“In 2019, Read Muskegon served about 150 incarcerated men and women,” said Melissa Moore, executive director.
“Because of the strong link between illiteracy and incarceration, this is some of the most important work that we do. By providing functional literacy skills to incarcerated individuals, we’re helping them be better prepared to navigate daily life in a positive way when they re-enter our community.”
Thanks to the leadership of Mediation & Restorative Services and the willingness of the jail administration to look for solutions, we’re proud to say that by early December we will have fulfilled our promise of no reader left behind. There are currently over 50 individuals on the waitlist for virtual literacy classes, and we’re eager to serve them this winter.
“As a partner in the EXIT program, we’re actively working to install the jail’s first-ever virtual learning equipment, which will allow us to resume twice-weekly classes,” said Moore. “We will be one of the first programs in the state to have this type of virtual access for program delivery.”
By expanding our virtual learning, we’ll help more men and women increase their functional literacy skills. Upon their release from jail, they’ll have the confidence and skills they need to read job postings, fill out job applications, pay bills, lease apartments, manage their finances and access health care. These types of literacy skills are key to preventing recidivism into the criminal justice system.
This holiday season, you can make sure no reader is left behind. Your generosity supports innovation and collaboration that connects more individuals with life-changing literacy skills. You can donate today at www.readmuskegon.org/donate