The CFGF aims to close the literacy gap in Genesee County with 'Literacy for Life' initiative

FLINT, Michigan — Since starting the Literacy for Life project in 2015, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) has connected more than 300 community stakeholders to establish several new community initiatives to close the literacy gap in the Flint community. 

According to the CFGF, “Genesee County is challenged by a silent crisis: one in two adults lack the basic skills needed to meet 21st-century education, employment, and life requirements. Many adults are unable to complete a job description effectively, help their children with homework, or read the information on a prescription bottle.”

To combat the literacy gap, the foundation has developed a new early learning center, a two-generation literacy program, the 'Read While You Wait' initiative located inside several barbershops and beauty salons, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library/Flint Kids Read initiative delivering one book per month to Flint children from birth to age five.

“The Community Foundation of Greater Flint put a stake in the ground on literacy during its 2013 strategic planning process,” said Isaiah Oliver, CEO of Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “We had come to understand the strong connection to literacy rates and economic self-sufficiency and overall quality of life. At the same time, Mott Community College president, Dick Shaink, was leading a community-wide effort to raise awareness about the importance of literacy for workforce development. Together, we saw literacy as an issue that could have a far-reaching impact and dramatically improve people’s lives throughout Genesee County.”

The Literacy for Life Fund was established at the CFGF in 2015 to support grantee partners focused on addressing literacy issues. Since 2018, CFGF has invested $484,500 in general operating support to the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network, and another $100,000 for two-generation literacy sites.

According to Oliver, in 2014, Literacy Powerline, a national organization that helps communities improve literacy rates, met with the CFGF board of trustees to share information on the current literacy rate and then to this goal by building a literacy network. 

“Research shows that communities that make significant progress in improving literacy rates do so because they have a literacy coalition that engages a multitude of stakeholders in the work,” said Oliver. “With support from the City of Flint, the United Way of Genesee County, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, an executive director, was hired in 2014 to lead a communitywide planning process on literacy in our ​community. This resulted in a focus on two-generational approaches that recognize the interdependence of children's success and family stability.”

The CFGF is a public charity created by the people of Genesee County in 1988 and is dedicated to using philanthropic initiatives by addressing many social needs.

To learn more about the Community Foundation of Greater Flint as well as Literacy for Life, click here

Read more articles by Brianna Nargiso.