Improving literacy in Detroit with the Detroit Sports Commission

Eighth graders across the country are currently reading below proficiency level pre-pandemic and it hasn’t gotten any better. 

Beyond Basics is helping to change that for the past 25 years by tackling the problem of illiteracy. Now, they've also gotten a bit of help from the NFL. 

Beyond Basics is one of several non-profits benefiting from the NFL as the league donated toward its mission of helping kids learn to read through a six-week process.

"We have a silent epidemic of illiteracy. People have no idea how vast this is," Pamela Good said. "In Detroit public schools, we have 85 to 90 percent of the kids in vulnerable communities that need help."

Across Michigan, more than half of students are crippled by illiteracy. In Detroit, about seven of every ten 8th graders are below proficiency level.

Good is co-founder and CEO of the non-profit Beyond Basics.  What started as a donation of coats for underserved kids, has led to a 25-year journey to help future generations learn to read.

"Beyond basics — I think what you can say about us, is that we’re relational," she said. "Relationships with the kids. Relationships with the schools. The relationships with the many, many people who supported our work," Good said. "The tutors get to see that moment that the light goes on for the child when they know they’ve arrived. They know how to sound out a word."

In November, the Detroit Sports Commission and Visit Detroit announced a $1 million donation to support youth literacy and active play in the city and communities. Beyond Basics and Project Play were both selected as the partners.

"We’ve identified two schools that will really benefit from the dollars that they’re giving us," Good said. "And we’re using that funding to tutor students. It will be Dickson Elementary and the Detroit Lions Academy."

The NFL Draft will be in Detroit from Thursday, April 25, 2024 through Saturday, April 27, 2024.