New Program Brings Hope Amidst COVID Restrictions

Imagine, what it must feel like to be a parent who — on top of struggling to find your family a safe, consistent  place to sleep — now needs to figure out how you will help them access virtual school. Imagine watching your child fall further behind in learning because you have no way to access the internet and feel unprepared to help them catch-up.

Born out of a collaborative effort of local school administrators, business owners and agencies, Read Muskegon is proud to be a founding partner of the Muskegon Heights Hope Center at Mahali. With many area schools switching to virtual learning this year, Rane Garcia, Superintendent of Muskegon Heights Public School Academy, saw an immediate need to support families who were at the greatest risk of being left behind by remote learning: those in transient living situations. 

The Muskegon Heights Hope Center was born out of a need to provide a safe, supportive space for families in shelters or other inconsistent living situations to access to the internet for virtual learning – both K-12 students and adults.

The drop-in center, located in downtown Muskegon Heights, provides families with the ability to participate in virtual school, 1:1 tutoring for both students and adults, family literacy programming, daily meals and connection to social support services. 

By building trust with these families now, Read Muskegon and other local support services are creating relationships that will last beyond virtual learning and COVID — helping these families break the generational cycles of poverty.

This collaborative effort is different from some other programs because the adult is present with the child during remote learning.  This provides an opportunity to support family literacy in a variety of ways, including:

  • Ensuring the child participates in online classes and has hands-on support to fill learning gaps;
  • Supporting the parent/guardian in understanding how to help their child with learning even if their own literacy level isn’t high;
  • Connecting adults to learning opportunities like Read Muskegon tutoring, health and financial literacy, GED classes or jobs training;
  • And providing family programming that gives participants hands-on experience in how to incorporate literacy development into everyday activities. 

 This program was developed in partnership with Muskegon Heights Public School Academy, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, United Way, Read Muskegon, and the Coalition for Community Development. 

Together, we are serving the most at-risk families — preventing long-term learning loss and increasing access to community services that will help end generational cycles of illiteracy and poverty.