About the KLC

Yearly Learners
Literacy Centers

the KLC

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults who struggle to read. The Kalamazoo Literacy Council offers free one-on-one programs designed to develop reading, writing and spelling skills. Our goal is to also educate the public about the crisis of illiteracy and bring together a community with a common goal of making Kalamazoo County 100 percent literate. The KLC is the only organization in Kalamazoo County exclusively providing free basic literacy instruction to adults.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, 13 percent of adults (25,495) in Kalamazoo County cannot read a job application, an intersection on a map, a prescription label, or read a story to their child. Their lives are often linked to poverty, crime, and poor health, and their children are more likely to struggle in school.

Our mission is led by highly trained and dedicated volunteers and supported by a full-time executive director, student services coordinator, part-time administrative staff, and generous donors. As a member agency of ProLiteracy – the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation – we’re connected to the right tools and resources to best support our learners and grow awareness.

With 261 volunteers and 14 literacy centers, we serve more than 700 adults in Kalamazoo County every year. Get involved by making a donation or by becoming a volunteer.


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. 

Related: WMU formalizes partnership with Kalamazoo Literacy Council

Lawanda's Story

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


Board of


Executive Director

Kalamazoo Literacy Council

Allisa Chamberlin

Immediate Past President

Associate Manager, Marketing Communications, Stryker



Director of Community Collaboration, The Kalamazoo Promise



Van Buren ISD


spencer Haworth


Engagement Officer, Bronson Health Foundation 


Mary Jane


Gull Lake Community Schools



Relationship Development Manager, Arbor Financial Credit Union 

Molly Fitz Henry


Manager of Special Initiatives, YOU


Paul yancho

Vice President

Attorney-Referee, Kalamazoo 9th Judicial Court

Sarah Bierema


Office Manager/Data & Fiscal Specialist, Samaritas

Chris Praedel


Executive Director, Community Homeworks 



Executive Director, Bronson Health Foundation

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy. 

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