YPSILANTI – According to the Literacy Research Association, no state has more than 19% of Black eighth-grade males reading at a proficient level. To help bring awareness to the country's literacy crisis and provide access to literacy organizations, Eastern Michigan University will host the annual Elijah & Chase Reading Matters for Literacy 5K Race/Walk, formerly known as the 5K Run/Walk for Literacy Awareness. This event will happen at University Park behind the Student Center on Eastern’s campus from 9 a.m. until noon on Aug 20.
“There are alarming statistics in regards to adolescent literacy in our country,” said Eric Brown, founder of the Elijah & Chase Reading Matters for Literacy 5K Race/Walk. “It is time for action because inaction will continue to see a school-to-prison pipeline that will result in our marginalized communities becoming an endangered species.”
After Brown witnessed a 12th-grade young male, Elijah Craft, reading at a 2nd-grade level, along with Chase Byers, who was four and struggled with literacy, he was inspired to make a change. Following his research, Brown also learned of a report published by the California Department of Education that discovered that 75% of African-American adolescent males were not reading at their grade level.
Brown then launched the Elijah & Chase Reading Matters for Literacy 5K Race/Walk. The donations received are donated to nonprofit literacy programs in the host cities where 5K events take place. The contributions will also help to address the literacy crisis in their respective communities.
Brown has received a wide range of support, especially from EMU. Brown believes that with the proper help, everyone can collectively eradicate the literacy crisis that continues to impact communities negatively. Since 2019, Brown has added additional cities to the initiative, including Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Mich., Chicago, Cincinnati, East Orange, N.J., Washington, District of Columbia, Atlanta, Decatur, Ga., Los Angeles, Calif., and Dallas, Texas.
As a result of Brown’s persistence and continued efforts to address the nation's literacy crisis, Craft, now 23 years old, agreed to serve on the organization's board and is now a motivational speaker. The Byers family is also thrilled that Chase is progressing after learning to read virtually at the age of five through the MI-RAMP program and are also pleased that the event bears his name.
“These young black males are the inspiration for the 5K Run/Walk, and to know that my passion is making a much-needed difference in the community and an impact on the lives of others is what keeps me going,” said Brown.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It serves more than 15,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.