Today 14 percent of our 3rd graders in Detroit are reading at grade level. We all know that this is unacceptable and that we must work together to make this a reality of the past.
At Brilliant Detroit we are so glad to be partnered with United Way of Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM) on a city-wide Grade Level Reading campaign. This will help advance the work started with Excellent Schools to collaboratively solve this issue. At the same time we are partnering in our locations with dozens of organizations to assure that every kid and family get what they need in order to be reading by 3rd grade.
We call this a belly to 8 effort because interventions that matter start in the womb. Some of what happens at our sites are:
Make Your Date – A program formed by Detroit civic leaders and medical experts with the Wayne State University School of Medicine to ensure that every pregnant woman in Detroit has the best chance of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy. Brilliant Detroit has partnered with this program to offer pre-term birth education classes to expectant mothers in neighborhoods. To date, three cohorts have completed the program with many more to come.
Lena Start – A national program that we are piloting in Detroit to address the 30 million word gap of words heard by age 4 between low- and middle-income families. Babies sit on the laps of their guardians and are given vests with recording devices that measure words. The guardians are then engaged in a workshop that leads them through conversational turn-taking and other communication strategies with their child.
Munger Leads When Munger Reads – A coalition of organizations coming together with Munger Elementary-Middle School and Detroit Public Schools Community District to pilot community-based intervention programs designed to increase grade level reading at Munger. Brilliant Detroit acts as a neutral facilitator in this process.
Raising a Reader – Another national program that we are piloting in Detroit as part of the Munger Leads When Munger Reads campaign in order to build family literacy habits. Families in cohorts receive red bags each week with age-appropriate books, which their children take the lead in reading. Every week, this bag gets swapped for a bag with different books after the parents receive training from a workshop on how best to engage their kids with reading in a meaningful and relevant way. At the end of each cohort, there is a celebration that connects participating families with their local libraries in order to continue to encourage family literacy habits.
Family Reading Journey – Partners volunteers with families to build literacy and reading habits among children and their guardians.
Pathways to Literacy – A 13-week program with the Detroit Parent Network that works with families on encouraging their children to develop an interest in literacy at an early age. Each week focuses on a book and on preparing activities for that book, as well as encouraging parents to start to build a library at home.
Play and Learns – Brilliant Detroit engages children and their guardians in regular Play and Learn activities designed to increase family bonds and the age-appropriate play skills of guardians.
ABC Mouse – An award-winning online education program that we are bringing both to our sites and to numerous laundromats that partner with us and Libraries Without Borders for the Wash & Learn Literacy Program. Wash & Learns engage children and families in literacy-rich activities while they wait for their clothes to be cleaned at local laundromats. Children will be able to access the activities in ABC Mouse, as well as the programs that track individual growth and learning.
We ask ourselves: what if a family starts their work before their baby is born and then, throughout their child’s first 8 years, works at each of the touchpoints of nurturing and growing that happen in their home and with their child.
Join us if you have similar dreams and are likewise committed to making these excellent programs available to children and adults throughout Detroit. Southwest Neighborhood Engagement Manager, Esmeralda Torres, says that she has “been impacted and am so happy to be able to continue to spread the wonders and amazement that will make us happier and healthier adults, children and communities. The enthusiasm Brilliant Detroit has put forth is contagious..Let’s keep spreading this.”
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