Resilience in Adult Learning
The KLC recently celebrated 10 years of the Everyone Needs To Read Adult Literacy Initiative, a campaign designed to promote our suite of FREE services to help adults throughout Kalamazoo County who struggle to read. Today, we continue to lift up the resilience of our learners and volunteers who have persevered through various challenges to make sure learning always continues.
Related: Stories of volunteer service and learner excellence
Our in-person and online programs strengthen reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension skills for native English speakers and English Language Learners. We believe everyone deserves access to quality adult literacy services to empower them to reach their full potential.
2022 literacy advocate of the year
2022 June Miller Legacy Award in Literacy
Tom Richardson, MBA, MA
Administrator for Business Development and Partnerships
Van Buren Intermediate School District
Tom Richardson is the Administrator for Business Development and Partnerships for the Van Buren Intermediate School District in Lawrence, Michigan. Over the past 20 years, Tom has worked to develop innovative strategic partnerships as an instructor, job placement coordinator, and administrator. His programs have been recognized for their innovation, both locally and nationally, by the National Rural Education Association, CARES Award; the Michigan Association of School Boards, Educational Excellence Award (2007, 2015), American Association of School Administrators, and Civic Star Award, among other local, state, and national recognitions.
Tom’s VBISD Project LEAN (Linking Education, Activity and Nutrition) program, a United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Education project under the Michigan Fitness Foundation, provides evidenced-based nutrition education and physical activity programming to more than 15,000 low-income students throughout eight counties in southwest Michigan.
Tom is actively engaged in his community and works closely with innovative visionary community leaders to support transformational change through thought, work, and people to create and implement strategic partnerships and solutions for the future. Tom has served as a Board Member for various agencies and organizations, including: Lakeside Charter School (Treasurer), Western Regional Area Health Education Center, Western Michigan University Southwest Michigan Community Advisory Board (Social Work), Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health, Michigan’s Council on Equity and Inclusion, Kalamazoo Literacy Council (Treasurer), and the Region 8 Prosperity Initiative. Tom also serves as the Treasurer of the West Michigan Education Research and Development Foundation.
Tom holds a BBA in Accounting, MBA in Finance and a MA in Educational Leadership, all from Western Michigan University. He is married to his wonderful wife Claudia and is the proud father of two awesome children, Daniella and Thomas.
We are proud to provide services through our Virtual Learning Center (VLC)!
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly posed many challenges for our organization. Fortunately, we have been very successful in transitioning our learners to the VLC. Our online classes include: Writing, four English as a Second Language classes, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFLⓇ), Citizenship, Job Opportunity and Basic Skills (JOBS), and Health Literacy, in addition to self-paced GED-preparation sessions and a book club. Our navigators are working tirelessly to help learners connect with their tutors virtually so they can continue to learn. The KLC has also established a Laptop Loaning Program that provides laptops and access to Wi-Fi for learners who need help bridging the digital divide. Our staff is working from home and is providing critical services, such as helping people file for unemployment, connecting to community resources that remove barriers, understanding the Covid-19 vaccine, and remaining engaged in classes.
Our Impact: Supporting the Resilience of Parents
Parent Literacy Together is a multi-generational learning initiative that helps parents improve their literacy and language skills so they can help their children and families succeed. It connects parents who are reading at a low grade level to existing family literacy and child literacy programs and prepares them to be successful “first teachers” of their children.
The KLC plans to reach 186 parents of school-aged children with weekly classes through the VLC. We will also have in-person sessions in the Read and Seed Community Garden and Interpretive Learning Center, located at Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan. Through this partnership, KLC parents of children ages 0-4 will have access to FREE childcare in the Childcare Center of the Goodwill Adult Education and Training Program! KLC parents also have access to our Workforce Literacy instruction for improving job skills, as well as Health Literacy, Financial Literacy, and Digital Literacy to improve the well-being of every household. We proudly serve these learners with a faculty of more than 200 trained volunteers.
Gilmore Foundation 1:1 Match
We recognize there are numerous needs in our community right now. We hope that if you are able and willing to support our cause that you will join our effort to engage our learners during these difficult times. Thanks to the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, new contributions or increased contributions from last year will be matched dollar-for-dollar. We encourage you to make a gift to the 2021 Everyone Needs to Read Annual Campaign and help us take advantage of this wonderful gift.
Thank you for helping to provide access to quality literacy services to adults in our community.
In Kalamazoo County, more than 25,000 adults struggle to read.
Every Contribution makes a difference
- $75 provides training materials and workbooks for one tutor and one student.
- $150 provides annual subscriptions (newspapers, books, and magazines) for 10 adult learners.
- $300 trains three volunteer tutors to begin literacy instruction.
- $750 provides scholarships for 10 tutors or instructors to attend training workshops to sharpen their skills.
- $1,000 funds the annual costs for materials, assessments, and instruction for 10 adult learners.
- $2,500 funds the books and supplies for a Community Literacy Center that can serve 25 learners annually.
- $5,000 funds the online academic instruction and in-class tutoring support for 50 adult learners annually.
Supporting tutor and student needs
The KLC provides free books and supplies to students and tutors so everyone who wants to learn how to read has the materials needed to take that very important step. Each tutor/student matched pair uses $100 annually in books and supplies.
More than 30 organizations are working together as part of the Adult Literacy Collaboratives (ALC) of Kalamazoo County to ensure every adult has the educational level and skills to be successful at work, at home, and in the community. This group unites adult education, workforce development, literacy service providers, business, and other organizations to support the cause of adult literacy and is convened monthly by the KLC. Contact us for more information on the ALC.
Funds will support Parent Literacy Programs.
Everyone needs to read to get a job. The JOBS Program strengthens critical literacy skills for the workplace.
Early Childhood Ed
Everyone needs to read to help their children learn. 186 parents study with the KLC and our "Parent Literacy Together" class helps parents and children can both enjoy learning.
Everyone needs to read to manage their health. Our "Read and Seed" Health Literacy Course helps learners make healthier decisions for their families.
All learners should have access to quality literacy services that empower them to reach their goals.
10th anniversary accolades
Allisa Chamberlin, 2020 – 2021 Board President
There is nothing more rewarding for the KLC than to see the impact we make in our community and in the lives of the learners we serve. Starting September 14, 2020, we’ll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary with 10 voices from community leaders, partners, tutors, and friends over 10 days. Click the video to hear from Allisa Chamberlin, our board president, who helps kicks things off and stay tuned for more accolades.
We are forever grateful to our community for your support, as well as our tutors and learners for all your hard work!
Michael D. Evans, Executive Director
“Everyone Needs To Read is an ambitious effort to acheive a fully literate community.”
Click the video to hear more directly from the KLC’s executive director.
Ron Kitchens, CEO Southwest Michigan First
“I’m looking forward to another decade of amazing impact and families’ lives changed because the Kalamazoo Literacy Council believes in the power of reading.”
Click the video to hear more of Ron’s powerful personal testament to literacy and his advocacy of the KLC.
Jim Edwards, Vice President Residential Services, KPEP
“I have long been a KLC advocate, from serving as a Board Member, Past President and currently sitting on the Finance Committee. 2020 represents significant milestones for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.
Congratulations on 10 years of the Everyone Needs to Read Initiative. It is this initiative that has driven strategic board and agency planning decisions to expand reach, invest in the community, and implement best practices. The impact on individuals, families, and the community is truly remarkable. A more literate community is a more thoughtful, vibrant and thriving community. The KLC has certainly assisted Kalamazoo in being just that.
This is also the 10 year anniversary of KLC Executive Director Michael D. Evans. The growth, adaptation, and progress would not be possible without Michael and his vision. From day one, Michael has embraced the mission while never slowing down. Michael’s leadership and compassion for the students has led to the Kalamazoo Literacy Council being the gold standard.
Congratulations to Michael and the KLC on these anniversaries.”
Dave Campbell, Kalamazoo RESA Superintendent
Lyda Stillwell, Volunteer Tutor and Assessor
“In 2001, I became a tutor for the KLC and shortly after, joined the small governing group. At that time, the governing group was without an office or staff, yet took on all of the adult literacy responsibilities such as the care and distribution of the free tutoring books, tutor training, and the matching of tutors with learners. They also took on the difficult task of educating the greater community about the Literacy Council and its mission. At that time, even the word ‘literacy’ was uncommon. We knew the KLC needed to grow in every way!
Through a grant, a planning specialist was obtained and many weeks were devoted to dreaming, thinking, and planning. The result was the hiring of the first Director – Michael Evans. Through Michael’s efforts, a strong support foundation was established and the Council created a headquarters, a staff, a Board, and a broad network of community members.
Its newly created mission and vision was ‘Enhance the lives of adults by improving their reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension skills. Empower adults to reach their full potential.’ This intention and commitment is a beacon to countless adults.”
L. Marshall Washington, Ph.D, President, KVCC
“Literacy is the cornerstone of learning.”
The partnership between the KLC and KVCC is integral to ensuring that learners have the educational supports in the community to help them reach their goals for success.
Click the video to hear more from Dr. Washington.
Deb Holtz, Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries
“Congratulations to you, Michael, and congratulations to the KLC on 10 years of helping guests in our community learn to read. That’s pretty exciting and you actually do so much more than helping people to read. I’m really proud to be a part of it. As a ministry, we are excited to partner with you; thank you for what you’re doing with the community. I love how you and your tutors, as a team, encourage people; you give them hope so they know that they can do this, that they can do whatever they want to do and that they can learn. Hope and encouragement are the biggest things to help people grow. I’ve seen the KLC grow and change immensely over the last several years. I appreciate all you do for me personally and our ministry here at KGM. And, I really appreciate your support, help, and understanding. Thank you so much and congratulations!”
Kim Bell, Kalamazoo Adult Education
The KLC and KAE have been partners for many years, bringing real life solutions to adults as they seek to remove barriers to learning, and look to improve their lives through literacy.
Together, we’ve helped thousands of learners strive toward their full potential as parents, employees, and community members.
Click the video to hear more from Kim.
Von Washington Jr., The Kalamazoo Promise
“For the last 15 years, I’ve worked with the KLC in my work in K12 and the Kalamazoo Promise, as we support students and families to reach their goals. KLC fills the gap for individuals who’ve left thorough graduation or other challenging circumstances. The KLC aligns those goals, allowing them to be successful in the community and society for the global world. Those that do this work don’t do it for the accolades or for the huge amounts of money they think they will gain through their accomplishments – it’s a labor of love and a desire to change the human condition.
Michael embodies that sentiment – his desire each and every day he wakes up is to eradicate illiteracy in Kalamazoo County. This is a tall order and one that requires someone with Michael’s fashion to see it through. I am fully convinced that he will not leave this position until it’s through, and the community is far better off because of his efforts. We need to continue to provide the much needed services to advance individuals, whether it be in their family, daily, or work lives.”
Paula, KLC volunteer tutor and tutor trainer
Paula is one of the longest KLC supporters, having served as a board president and tutor/tutor trainer for 19 years. Through her efforts, hundreds of volunteers gain certification to become KLC tutors, teaching in the Laubach and Challenger methods. Paula is a beloved volunteer, literacy advocate, and donor – without her, the KLC could not do the work we do!
Click the video to hear more from Paula.
Mary Doud, Kalamazoo Public Library
Mary is a beloved supporter of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. We are deeply grateful for her advocacy and generosity!
Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy.
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