First Annual State of Literacy Forum

The Problem

In 2007, I incorporated The Josie Odum Morris Literacy Project Inc. (JOMLP), a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping children and adults with the necessary literacy skills to achieve their full potential. Our goal is to create innovative programs that increase literacy skills in children and adults who live in Inkster. According to the U.S. Department of Education one in five American adults are functionally illiterate. According to the Detroit Literacy Coalition, 18 percent of Michigan’s population is functionally illiterate. Even more alarming, a national study shows that 38 percent of the adults who live in Inkster are functionally illiterate.Unfortunately, most adults who struggle in their reading are ashamed and do not seek help to become self-sufficient. I have a personal stake in this organization. When I was a young girl, I struggled in my reading. However, someone saw my potential and worked to help me improve my reading skills. Today, I am a published poet, motivational speaker, and I currently attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where I am pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in print journalism. My life is a testimony to how much a child can overcome when people care enough to help.

Plan of Action

Since our inception, the Josie Odum Morris Literacy Project, Inc. (JOMLP), has partnered with several sororities to host multi-cultural story times to encourage children in grades first through third to develop an appreciation for literature and to become lifelong learners. Furthermore, we have sponsored 25 give-a-way bags that contained children’s books and hygiene products for low-income children. On Saturday, June 28, 2008, JOMLP will host our First Annual State of Literacy Forum at the Booker T. Dozier Recreation Complex in Inkster. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness about illiteracy in Inkster, and to identify adults who need literacy tutoring and recruit the adults who are willing to tutor. Following the First Annual State of Literacy Forum, JOMLP will meet with local church leaders and library commissioners to ask for permission to utilize their facilities as literacy training and tutoring sites. JOMLP has partnered with Pro-Literacy Detroit to train and match tutors with adult learners in Inkster. We will build upon the success of this June event by sponsoring literacy training for adults who want to volunteer. Also, throughout the year we plan to recruit volunteers from churches, colleges, and the community who are willing to tutor adult learners in Inkster.

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