Muskegon County is clearly on the move, but over 20,000 adults in our community are at a virtual standstill because they cannot read well enough to fill out a job or housing application, read safety information in the workplace, follow healthcare instructions, or read to their children and grandchildren. The literacy statistics are even more staggering for our children. Less than 50% of our 5-year-olds enter kindergarten ready to learn and more than 60% of our incoming 4th graders are not reading at grade level.
There is a literacy crisis in Muskegon County and it is time to take dramatic, focused action to combat it.
We know that no single education system, government agency or non-profit organization can independently resolve this issue. That’s why Read Muskegon is leading a countywide effort to develop a results-oriented literacy collaborative dedicated to combating the illiteracy crisis through collective impact. Together, Read Muskegon and its extensive network of collaborative partners are focused on ensuring that all individuals in need of improved literacy skills, no matter their age, have access to the information and resources they need to succeed.
The collaborative includes a broad spectrum of community partners including: the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, Community Foundation for Muskegon County, MI Reading Corps, Mercy Health – Community Health Project, Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office, Muskegon Community College, Baker College, Goodwill, United Way, Talent 2025, Chamber of Commerce, Region 4 Adult Education, West MI Works, White Lake Community Education, Muskegon Area District Libraries, Hackely Public Library, Urban League, and city & state government officials. Equally as important, we are actively engaging resident voices as members and leaders of the collaborative.
Over the past 12 months, collaborative members have been working in partnership with the National Center for Families Learning to assess the literacy landscape in Muskegon County through interviews, surveys and community focus groups. What did we find? We’re doing a lot of things right and we’ve got a lot of great programs ready to support our communities. But, we also found a lot of gaps in service and systemic challenges that are creating barriers to success for our most vulnerable learners, across their life span.
85 individuals gathered last September to review the findings and prioritize next steps. As a result, three initial action teams were formed. The Collaborative Steering Committee has been focused on creating the mission, vision and structure for the group. The Public Awareness team will work on creating a campaign to increase the general public understanding of illiteracy and connect community members to services. The Integrated Continuum of Services team is working to ensure a seamless transition from birth through adult literacy supports with a focus on family literacy and breaking generational cycles.
The next meeting of the collaborative will take place on Thursday, March 26th, from 9:30-12:00. If you are interested in more information, please contact Melissa Moore. 231-830-5539 or Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.