The Nonprofit Brilliant Detroit has Launched Detroit Reads!

Brilliant Detroit, the pioneering organization committed to fostering childhood success in Detroit neighborhoods, has unveiled an ambitious citywide initiative called Detroit Reads! The campaign, in collaboration with its 18 community hubs and partner organizations, aims to combat summer learning loss and provide more than 5,000 Detroit children and families with enriching summer learning and literacy opportunities.

Cindy Eggleton, the co-founder and CEO of Brilliant Detroit, emphasized the significance of this campaign in addressing the annual challenge faced by children in their literacy growth during the summer break.

“We founded Brilliant Detroit in 2016 on the premise that when it comes to addressing literacy issues Detroit children face, the focus needs to be on creating neighborhoods where children, families and neighbors have everything they need so they can succeed in life and school. The most important part of this is that families and communities have the agency,” said Eggleton.

“It is for this reason that Kid Success Neighborhoods were created. In each of our hubs, families can easily walk, feel safe, grow to trust, and establish very important bonds with staff and families. Collectively with partners, we believe we can fundamentally improve not only literacy, but the lives of children in our Kid Success Neighborhoods.”

The Detroit Reads! Kid Success Summer Sessions take place at Brilliant Detroit hubs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, followed by Family Engagement activities after 4 p.m. until August 25. Each hub offers a wide array of activities, including Book Fairs, Meet Your Library Walks, Author’s Days, Mini Medical Schools, Men’s Read Days, Black Storyteller Days, Art Therapy, Neighborhood Storytelling, and more. Moreover, Family Engagement programs focus on equipping parents with the skills needed to promote their children’s literacy at home while fostering a joyful reading experience for the entire family.

Kuru Masomere, a Detroit mother of second and fourth graders, expressed her relief and excitement about Detroit Reads!.

“When our neighbor told me about the Detroit Reads! activities happening through Brilliant Detroit, I felt relieved to know my boys would have a place to not just learn, but to also meet other children all summer long,” said Masomere.

To demonstrate how reading and language development can be seamlessly integrated into everyday summer activities, Brilliant Detroit partners with national and local community organizations to provide books, learning tools, and local resources, ensuring access to neighborhood literacy programs for children up to 8 years old.

Eggleton reiterated the importance of fostering strong reading habits in Detroit’s young learners.

“The importance of family literacy is clear, studies repeatedly show that kids do better when literacy habits like reading, storytelling and encouragement are a family affair,” she said. “It also builds important bonds. For us, we help provide ways families can be involved together in reading, assure that families have culturally relevant books and provide tutoring so that families thrive together.”

The initiative has garnered support from national partners, including Raising a Reader, Read in Color, Reading Is Fundamental, and Springboard. Several community partners have also joined the cause, such as Alpha Kappas, Arts & Scraps, Birdie’s Books, Black Family Development, Center for Success, Connect 313, Detroit PAL, Great Start Wayne, Michigan Learning Channel, SOAR, and University of Detroit School DCDC.

The Detroit Reads! campaign by Brilliant Detroit holds immense significance for Black students in Detroit, as it aims to address the educational disparities and systemic challenges that disproportionately affect this community. Historically, Black students in Detroit have faced barriers to accessing quality education and resources, contributing to the persistent achievement gap.

Combating Summer Learning Loss: The summer learning loss is a pervasive issue that impacts students, particularly those from low-income and marginalized backgrounds. Black students often experience a greater loss in academic skills during the summer break, exacerbating the achievement gap. By providing targeted literacy support and engaging activities through Detroit Reads!, Brilliant Detroit seeks to minimize this learning loss and help Black students return to school better prepared academically.

Access to Resources: Black communities in Detroit have, for years, struggled with limited access to educational resources and learning opportunities. The 18 community hubs of Brilliant Detroit are strategically located in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of Black families, ensuring that these communities have improved access to literacy programs, books, and learning materials that promote educational growth.

Culturally Relevant Programming: Detroit Reads! acknowledges the importance of culturally relevant programming for Black students. By incorporating Black Storytellers, Black-authored books, and other culturally diverse content, the campaign creates an inclusive learning environment that celebrates the rich heritage of Black students and fosters a sense of belonging.

Empowerment Through Literacy: Literacy is a foundational skill that opens doors to opportunity and empowers individuals. For Black students in Detroit, who may face unique challenges and systemic barriers, a strong foundation in literacy can be transformative. By bolstering their reading abilities and confidence through Detroit Reads!, Brilliant Detroit helps Black students develop critical skills that can positively impact their educational journey and future prospects.

Family and Community Engagement: The Detroit Reads! campaign emphasizes family involvement and community engagement in supporting children’s learning. For Black students, the involvement of parents and caregivers can be particularly influential in fostering a positive attitude towards education and academic success. By equipping parents with the tools and resources to promote literacy at home, the campaign reinforces the importance of education within Black households.

Representation and Visibility: Representation matters. Detroit Reads! showcases the value of diverse voices and perspectives in literature and learning materials. By featuring Black authors, Black protagonists, and culturally relevant content, the campaign validates the experiences and identities of Black students, reinforcing that their stories and contributions are vital and worthy of celebration.

In summary, Detroit Reads! has the potential to make a significant impact on Black students in Detroit by providing them with equitable access to educational resources, addressing summer learning loss, promoting family engagement, and empowering them with the skills and confidence needed to excel academically. Through this initiative, Brilliant Detroit demonstrates its commitment to bridging the educational divide and fostering a brighter future for all children in Detroit, including those from Black communities.

As Detroit Reads! takes flight, families, volunteers, and organizations are encouraged to participate in Brilliant Detroit hubs and partner-based programs and events, contributing to the collective effort of fostering early childhood summer learning. Together, they are making a profound difference in the lives of Detroit’s children and forging a brighter future for the city.

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