Mission & History

Mission Statement

Beyond Basics works to achieve literacy for everyone, transforming the lives of students and creating stronger communities through an intensive tutoring program that helps students achieve grade-level movement and beyond in reading.

How Beyond Basics Became a Literacy Nonprofit

1999
Pamela Good delivers winter coats to students at Herman Rogers Academy in Detroit. Later, she teams up with Dr. Joanne Wagerson to address learning inequities between the city and its suburbs.
2001
Pilot programs begin in Detroit elementary schools. They include art projects, book clubs, field trips, and student writing. Enthusiasm builds!
2002

Incorporates as a nonprofit, formalizes its early programs and establishes first in-school publishing center.

Begins full time in Detroit’s Jamieson Elementary School thanks to the Farbman family’s generosity. The Webber Foundation becomes a major supporter.

2009
While operating in Detroit and Pontiac, Beyond Basics observes a profound literacy gap among participating students.

Mercedes Benz Financial Services provides funding for reading and writing in Thirkell Elementary School, Detroit.
2011

Gordon Follmer brings Beyond Basics to Detroit’s Finney High School and duplicates results among older students.

Family Literacy pilot offers adult GED services and reading tutoring; expands literacy tutoring to students in grades three through 12.

2014
The Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation announce a $2 million gift to Beyond Basics to help end illiteracy in Detroit’s public schools.
2015
Develops Reading Readiness, Read to Rise, and the Scholars programs with pilots slated for 2016 school year.
2016
Drs. D. Carl Freeman and Hilary Horn Ratner at Wayne State University validate Beyond Basics’ groundbreaking work.

Brings its programs to Myers Elementary School, Taylor.
2017
“A Day in the Life” documentary by Keith Famie tells the poignant story of Elijah Craft, a Beyond Basics student.
2018
The Durfee Family Literacy Center, sponsored by GM and located at the Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit, opens to serve neighborhood residents of any age.
2019
Launches the Be the Solution campaign to raise $33 million and tutor 11,000 Detroit high school students in three years.
2020

GM donates $1 million to Be the Solution.


Begins serving students virtually; duplicates in-person results.

2021
The A.A. Van Elslander Foundation donates $1.5 million to create the Beyond Basics Legacy Program at Denby High School honoring Art Van Elslander.
2022
Joique Bell starts initiative to bring Beyond Basics to Benton Harbor.
2023

Beyond Basics announced the findings of a Longitudinal Study, which unequivocally demonstrates the potential of children. In this comprehensive study conducted by Dietz Consulting, involving 3,553 students. High school students, on average, showed remarkable improvement by advancing two grade levels.
Beyond Basics is recognized by the Detroit Sports Commission as a living legacy awardee for promoting education.
Beyond Basics champions the introduction of the Sense of Congress Bill – HR Res 738, fostering educational excellence nationally.

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