March 6, 2017


MEDIA CONTACT                                       
Janine Krasicky Sadaj

Research shows Beyond Basics’ approach to tackling the literacy problem works

Young Detroiter’s life changes after learning to read
DETROIT – One young Detroiter’s life has changed now that he has learned to read, thanks to a tutoring program offered by Beyond Basics (a student-centered, literacy focused nonprofit organization). Today at the Detroit Athletic Club, the organization held a second private screening of director and producer Keith Famie’s short film “A Day in the Life of Elijah Craft,” which chronicles how learning to read changed Elijah’s life.

“I never had someone who helped me with the basics,” said Elijah Craft, a 6’6” 17-year-old from Central High School in Detroit, Mich. “All of my life I wanted to do something with my reading and now I can walk around the neighborhood without a problem. I didn’t want to be the one left behind.”

What’s next for Elijah? He plans to go to college to get his business degree and master’s degree and he has a soft spot for his hometown. “I really would love to make sure that Detroit would just come back and be the beautiful town that we used to have. I love Detroit. I love it so much,” said Elijah.

“As a documentary filmmaker, I have the rare opportunity to step into the personal lives of so many. The time I spent with Elijah and his family reaffirmed many things for me, like how a mother and father’s love and wisdom is paramount for a young man growing up in Detroit,” said Famie. “If respected and given a chance, the youth of Detroit can flourish. What Beyond Basics offers the youth of today will for sure enable the young men and women they touch to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

The organization hopes to use this film to broaden the effort to shed a national spotlight on literacy in Detroit. Beyond Basics also plans work with Keith Famie on a two-hour documentary that will take a deeper look at the literacy issues that plague Detroit and other school districts throughout Michigan.

Research finds Beyond Basics’ approach is working

At the event, Beyond Basics also unveiled the results of a study conducted by Dr. D. Carl Freeman, Department of Biological Science, Wayne State University and Dr. Hilary Horn Ratner, Vice President, Division of Research and Interim Dean of the Graduate School, Wayne State University, which evaluated the Beyond Basics Read to Rise program. Dr. Freeman stated, “The data are unequivocal, students who participate in the Beyond Basics’ reading program make progress on the basic reading skills, at many times the rate of students in their same school participating only in the general education reading program. This is especially true of reading comprehension skills – the ultimate goal of reading.”


Their research found the program to be very effective in the controlled randomized study. Children who participated in the program outperformed their peers across a wide range of reading skills, including both word and comprehension performance. Children at the beginning of the program were identical to those in reading performance who did not participate, but by the end of the training, the students’ skills had significantly increased. These findings provide convincing evidence that the program is successful in enhancing reading abilities among children who traditionally struggle with reading proficiency. The program offers a valuable approach to supplemental reading instruction. It showed that the treated group made significant progress in every area versus those who were in the control group and not tutored. The findings included:

  • The measurement for grade level showed 5 times the growth vs. the control group.
  • Grade level word identification showed5 times the growth vs. the control group.
  • Measuring the child’s comfort with sounding out words that are greater than their ability to read, Word Attack, showed9 times the growth vs. the control group.

“We know that a child who struggles to read becomes an adult who struggles. Beyond Basics is convinced literacy is the largest solvable problem that plagues urban school districts around the country. By partnering with schools to provide a program that works quickly, we can make a huge impact,” said Pam Good, president of Beyond Basics. “Literacy is for everyone, so we meet people where they are to teach them how to read.”

Beyond Basics partners with principals and schools to provide reading, tutoring, and supplemental programs – writing, art, mentoring, and partnerships – throughout the school day for students in grades Pre-K through 12. The organization has successfully taught children and adults how to read during the school day and at after school programs and homeless shelters.

“There is definitely not enough awareness in our community about what needs to be done with literacy in our region,” said Jack Aronson, Beyond Basics, Chairman of the Beyond Basics board and Garden Fresh founder. “It’s remarkable what this program is doing. It is changing these kids’ lives in six to 10 weeks. Our tutors are like a tutor, big brother and life coach, all wrapped into one. The results are remarkable.”

How you can help
Beyond Basics needs businesses and foundations to help fund its programs and individuals who can volunteer in a number of ways, or donate books, clothes, food and other essentials to the vulnerable children in our community.

About Beyond Basics
Beyond Basics’ proven methods have unlocked the miracle and power of reading and opened a whole new world and future to those who need it most. Beyond Basics is a 501(c)(3) student-centered, literacy focused nonprofit organization dedicated to one-on-one reading tutoring and literacy enrichment programs for K-12 students in Metropolitan Detroit. Beyond Basics achieves grade level movement in as little as six weeks. Visit for more information. For sponsorship and partnership opportunities, please call (248) 918-3543. Follow us on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.