The Need

The statistics speak for themselves. More than 3 out of 4 of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers, 3 out of every 5 prison inmates and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. The disconnect surfaces early, with 85% of juvenile offenders having reading problems. And, so with this one piece of the puzzle missing, the prospects for a child’s life unravel before it has scarcely begun. This is the plight of almost 50% of Detroit’s youth.

In May of 2011, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund reported that 47% of Detroit’s youth are functionally illiterate– or unable to read at a fourth grade level. The impact of such a pervasive problem is far-reaching– leading to multigenerational cycles of poverty, poor health, school failure, and higher crime rates throughout the city. Add to this, the current fiscal crisis in Detroit and the related budget cuts, teacher layoffs and growing class sizes and the situation is likely to go from bad to worse. If nothing is done over 40,000 children currently enrolled in the Detroit Public School system will be illiterate and predisposed to a life of poverty.

The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.”

To reverse the trend, a groundbreaking, community-wide effort is needed— one that is capable of breaking the cycle to prevent thousands more from similar fates.