right to literacy


Check out this highlight reel of the Right to Literacy Fall event, from our friends at Public Media Network. The event featured speakers including Dr. Grace Lubwama, CEO, YWCA Kalamazoo, City Commissioner Chris Praedel, Ryan Weiber, former KPL Executive Director, and Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri, former KPS Superintendent. Members of the community also signed the Literacy Scroll. 

Pictured: Paul Yancho, KLC Board President.  

Joint Statement for the Right to Literacy

Literacy is the root solution to many challenges and is vital to building strong communities. Whether it is completing a job application, filling out a medical form, or helping a child succeed in school – Everyone Needs to Read.

Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Read and Write Kalamazoo, SLD Read, and Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo stand together in our commitment to make the Right to Literacy a reality in greater Kalamazoo.

We are committed to achieving a fully literate community that works together to empower all individuals to achieve their full potential. We want everyone to develop reading, writing, and language skills that cultivate lifelong learning and that celebrate and amplify the voices of learners of all ages. We are working to build a supportive community that gives people safe and positive spaces to learn and grow, and surrounds them with support that empowers them to continue learning and achieving in life. We want all learners to succeed in school, gain self-esteem and confidence, be prepared for college and a career, and fulfill their promise. Together, we are working to raise awareness and understanding of literacy issues in our community.

We believe literacy is a right and should be treated as such. A right means that if even one person lacks it, all people should care. In our community, our state, and our country, literacy is a major crisis that must be fully met for us all to prosper. 

  • We know 13% of adults in Kalamazoo County, or 25,000 people, struggle to read and nearly 10,000 adults in Kalamazoo County do not yet have a high school diploma or GED.
  • We know everyone needs to read to excel at work. One out of every three job applicants lack the reading skills needed to do the job they seek and about 90% of them are not hired if interviewed.
  • We know everyone needs to read to teach their kids. 72% of children born to adults with low literacy skills are likely to repeat the cycle and all children need to be able to read at every stage of their lives and development. 
  • We know everyone needs to read to keep their family healthy and that literacy is the strongest predictor of health status, more than age, income, employment status, education level or racial/ethnic group. 

The Right to Literacy is our common commitment to comprehensively address the literacy needs of our community. The Literacy Scroll last traveled through Kalamazoo in 2010. The five pillars it supports – building the community, strengthening the family, ensuring people’s rights to self-determination, improving the workforce, and transforming the literacy system are necessary steps to achieving a fully literate community. We need to go beyond signing the scroll. Together we ask our leaders, our parents, our non-profit community, our faith community, businesses, schools, and everyone who can make a difference to get involved in this cause. We ask everyone to consider: 

  • Volunteering as a tutor.
  • Giving to organizations where tutoring is central to their work.
  • Being an advocate for literacy and for policies, systems, and processes that advance literacy as a right.

Tutors play an essential role in developing literacy skills for learners of all levels – from “little scholars” in childcare, to children who struggle in K-12, to adult learners working on their GED, and to anyone who has yet to learn how to read.

We have lost many tutors due to the COVID 19 pandemic and need volunteers to help learners on their literacy journey. Collectively, between Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Read and Write Kalamazoo, SLD Read, and Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo we are issuing the “200 Tutor Challenge” to strengthen and replenish the number of tutors we need to serve the learners who need us. 

Click below to learn more about volunteer opportunities today!
Kalamazoo Literacy Council 
Read and Write Kalamazoo
SLD Read 
Communities In Schools Kalamazoo


The Right to Literacy collaborative hosted a screening of the documentary The Right to Read at the Kalamazoo Public Library. The film shares the stories of an Oakland, CA NAACP activist, a teacher, and two American families who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read. It is directed by Jenny Mackenzie and executive produced by LeVar Burton. The event also included a community conversation following the viewing. Click here to hear the conversation or watch the trailer below. 

making america read Documentary

Making America Read (2017) is a short film about the literacy challenges facing youth in Detroit and adults in Kalamazoo. It features the story of Jerry Melson, a KLC learner and his journey to develop the literacy skills needed to read to his granddaughter. It is produced by Unreported World and aired on British TV. 

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy. 

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