Flint, MI — Three community organizations are coming together to help the Community Outreach For Family Youth (COFY) New Beginning Literacy Program combat literacy concerns in Flint, Michigan.

The Genesee County Democratic Black Caucus, The Mallory, VanDyne, Scott Bar Association and the Flint Saginaw Association of Black Journalist have teamed up to collect books to donate to the program which offers one to one tutoring services at 1015 E Carpenter Rd., Flint. 

“The literacy program at the COFY Center is important because we have to combat falling literacy rates in Flint, and in Michigan,” said Charis Lee, local lawyer and book drive organizer. “Statewide, a majority of third graders were less than adequate this year in reading.”

The book drive will continue until January 18, 2020.The community is being invited to participate in the book drive. Kindergarten to fifth grade reading level books can be dropped off at Big Baby Bar-B-Que and Fish, 5301 N Saginaw St, Flint. 

Melinda Anderson, program director of the COFY New Beginning Literacy Program, says that this program is important because it is not just about reading and writing. Literacy plays an integral role in the health of a community.

“Improved literacy can change the trajectory of an entire community,” she said. “The issue of literacy is from the cradle to the grave.” 

Third grade reading levels in Michigan have received extra attention since Michigan Legislature passed a law that says third graders may be held back if they are more than one grade level behind in reading and writing. This is the first year that students may be retained based on the law passed in 2016. According to the Education Trust-Midwest less than half of Michigan third-graders were reading and writing at or above grade level and local attorney Torchio Feaster says that literacy levels shine a light into the future of students. 

“Simply said without literacy there are few job opportunities and without jobs there is a great likelihood of turning to crime,” said Feaster who is also an organizer for the book drive. “People will always find a means to provide for themselves and their family’s whether that be through the classroom or through the streets. We need to make sure that we are guiding them through the classroom so that they do not have to turn to the street. Eventually, those who turn to crime as a lifestyle will end up in the system or worse.”

Tutoring services are offered to adults Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Youth tutoring services are available Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Anderson says that this book drive will help the COFY Center, which does not receive any funding provide books to program participants. She also said that donations are welcome. Currently, the literacy program is volunteer driven, and the retired school teacher provides volunteers incentives such as gift cards at the expense of her own pocket.

If you have questions about volunteering or making donations you can call Anderson at the COFY Center, 810-789-0629.

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