Beyond Basics, a Detroit-based literacy nonprofit, will host its 2019 Literacy Luncheon fundraiser on May 2 at the Detroit Athletic Club. The event also will honor individuals who work with the organization and will serve as the 20th anniversary celebration for the organization.
Pamela Good, co-founder and CEO of Beyond Basics, delivered coats to a Detroit school in 1999 and eventually found students needed help reading. The organization offers holistic literacy intervention and enrichment programs and has helped thousands of students.
“We need the entire community to come together to help create lasting change,” says Good. “Beyond Basics looks forward to recognizing individuals who make a difference in Detroit and the world by helping the most vulnerable in our community.”
During the luncheon, Beyond Basics will spotlight the 2019 Bettering Detroit Honorees, including Emily and Henry Ford III, Chris Lambert, and Kuhu Saha and David Merritt.
Henry Ford III recently was appointed to serve on the Ford Foundation’s board of trustees. He also serves on other boards and advisory boards.
Emily Ford focuses her philanthropic work on education with an emphasis on youth and adult literacy as well as accessibility to high-quality schooling options for Detroit’s children. She has served on the Beyond Basics board of directors since 2016. The Fords also are founding board members of a nonprofit that partners with community-based organizations to increase the accessibility and affordability of early childcare.
Lambert launched Detroit nonprofit Life Remodeled in 2010 with his wife, Andrea. In the last five years, the organization has mobilized $26 million and more than 56,000 volunteers to beautify 1,589 blocks and repair 188 homes in four Detroit neighborhoods.
It now is renovating a former school to create the Durfee Innovation Society, an ecosystem of nonprofits and for-profits to create opportunities for Detroit youth, adults, and families. Beyond Basics opened its inaugural Family Literacy Center there last fall.
Saha and Merritt launched a cause-based fashion brand, Merit, in 2012 that donates 20 percent of its profits to fund its youth program, FATE. The program works to level the educational playing field and increase youth interest learning and higher education.
It partners with Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit and offers after-school programming focused on academic enrichment, social and cultural awareness, career development, and student mentorship. Students who uphold program standards in GPA, conduct, community service, and attendance are promised $5,000 scholarships. By 2019, FATE will support about 125 students. The organization helps decrease absenteeism and suspensions while increasing GPA and standardized test scores.
Laurie and Thomas Cunnington will receive the Dr. Joanne Wagerson Humanitarians of the Year award. The two lead Cunnington and Cunnington, a Bloomfield Hills-based consulting firm, and serve on many organization boards. Their philanthropic work supports education, mentoring, and micro-finance locally, nationally, and in developing countries. The Cunnington Family Foundation has supported Beyond Basics’ work since 2007. Its most recent contribution allowed Beyond Basics to assess students’ reading levels at Westside Christian Academy in northwest Detroit.
Beyond Basics’ literacy programming gets children and adults reading in an average six weeks. It opened its Beyond Basics Family Literacy Center in October 2018, where it offers literacy, GED, online diploma, SAT preparation, and workforce development services to individuals and families.