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Zaman International wins 2016 Better World Books literacy grant

Zaman International has received $5,000 from Better World Books to provide vocational training and literacy instruction through its Building Ongoing Opportunities for Skills Training (BOOST) program, which empowers marginalized, low-income women throughout Greater Detroit to achieve a better standard of living.

The South Bend, Ind.-based bookseller named Zaman one of 10 recipients of its 2016 Literacy Grants for Libraries and Nonprofits (http://cares.betterworldbooks.com/grants/literacy-grants-projects/). The socially responsible bookseller, which donates a book for every book it sells and directs a percentage of each sale to support literacy, said it reviewed millions of dollars worth of grant requests and hundreds of applications before selecting this year’s winners.

Launched in January 2016, the BOOST Literacy Program helps Zaman’s clients realize employment opportunities in Metro Detroit through a no-cost, multi-level curriculum covering English proficiency, job procurement and social/workplace acculturation. It provides one-on-one and small group tutoring in ESL and Adult Basic Literacy and integrates life skills through shopping excursions and library outings. It facilitates participation by providing free child care and free transportation to and from classes.

BOOST Director Gigi Salka said the grant comes at a critical time for Zaman’s literacy program, which has just completed its first semester of classes and which in May celebrated the progress of its inaugural 26 students.

“Our program is young and still identifying and acquiring the instructional tools that can best help our students,” said Salka, adding that there is a great need for literacy instruction among Zaman’s clients, many of whom are refugees. “Our students are determined to learn English to improve their situations and have made great strides in just a few months. We are incredibly grateful to Better World Books for its generous grant, which will help us purchase the advanced curriculum materials and online learning platforms our students need to continue making progress at home and over the summer months.”

The BOOST Literacy Program is based on the model developed by ProLiteracy America and the Adrian Rea Literacy Centers, both of which use one-on-one tutoring strategies and lesson planning to address the individual needs of each adult learner. Volunteer tutors, who include college professors, doctors, retired teachers, entrepreneurs, and college and graduate students, undergo intensive tutor training through Zaman’s partnership with Sienna Literacy Center and the Dominican Literacy Center of Detroit, long established programs under the Adrian Rea Literacy System. Tutors work under the direct supervision and guidance of BOOST Literacy Coordinator Debbie Abdulhamid, who is responsible for curriculum development and student lesson planning and progress.

Salka said Zaman’s BOOST Literacy Program welcomes volunteers and donations. Anyone interested in giving time or materials to the program can contact Gigi Salka at 313-551-3994 ext. 2017 or gsalka@zamaninternational.org.

Zaman International is a non-profit organization committed to addressing the basic needs and empowerment of marginalized women and children locally and internationally. Founded in 1996 and incorporated in 2004, Zaman has to date assisted more than 125,000 people in Southeast Michigan with food, clothing, furniture, utility assistance, infant burial, and other essential needs, while providing humanitarian relief, disaster response, and access to safe drinking water to an additional 600,000 across the world through international activities and partnerships. Since 2014, Zaman has operated out of the Hope For Humanity Center, a 40,500-square-foot facility in Inkster that houses its crisis assistance, vocational training and life skills programs. For more information, please visit www.zamaninternational.org.