Metro-Detroit Young Professionals Kick Off New Committee to Combat Illiteracy

by Gabriella Burman

Director of Communications, Beyond Basics
Published On: October 25, 2022Categories: News

There are many ways to spend a late summer Thursday evening in Detroit, but on September 22, more than 100 metro-Detroit young professionals chose to learn about the mission of Beyond Basics, Michigan’s leading provider of structured literacy intervention. The event, held at the Riverside, launched the newly formed Leaders for Literacy, a committee of adults aged 25-40 who want to do their part to eradicate the crisis of illiteracy in America.

Committee chair Abigail Turnbull felt moved to become part of the solution after learning about Beyond Basics at a nonprofit showcase in 2021. Currently two-thirds of fourth graders nationwide are reading below proficiency, and pandemic learning losses have only added to their ranks. Turnbull was heartened to learn there is a remedy: Beyond Basics’ multisensory approach helps students achieve grade-level movement in an average of six weeks.

Turnbull’s passion to become a literacy advocate quickly drew her peers to join her in forming Leaders for Literacy, and the committee’s enthusiasm is contagious, as evident by the many young professionals who milled about the venue, enjoying cocktails and music, curious to learn more. “I’m blown away by the generosity of our attendees,” said Turnbull, an account manager at leading insurance broker NFP. “I’m very much looking forward to keeping the momentum to continue to make a difference and work to eradicate illiteracy.”

The Beyond Basics model for intervention helps K-12 students in the “literacy gap,” reading below their grade level, find their way out. Following a diagnostic assessment, a trained tutor delivers an individualized reading plan, working one-on-one with a student, in daily hour-long sessions embedded within the school day. Once literate, students can access their curriculum across all subjects, pursue college and workforce opportunities, and connect to life’s beautiful possibilities.

Gen Zers and millennials are outspoken, entrepreneurial and often lead with the heart by placing values ahead of material gain. As such, a solution that meets students where they are, swiftly produces measurable results and paves the way towards a just and equitable society resonates with them as they consider charitable giving and advocacy. Leaders for Literacy creates a new cohort of champions who are passionate about ending the epidemic of illiteracy in America and lays the groundwork to engage Beyond Basics’ next generation of supporters.

If you know a young professional who would like to be informed of future Leaders for Literacy events and activities, please email Executive Outreach Manager Katie Nienstedt at

About Beyond Basics

Since its founding in 1999, Beyond Basics has grown to become Michigan’s leading provider of structured literacy intervention working in more than 20 locations, helping students advance in reading in an average of six weeks. Learn more at

Photo: Taken by Patrick Gloria of DBusiness. Pictured left to right: Lucie Fornasiero, Gianna Manchester, Abigail Turnbull & Jonathan Barrosso at the Leaders for Literacy event.

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