Detroit’s Wash and Learn Initiative Takes School Into Laundromats

Education in non-traditional spaces makes learning creative, available, and accessible for Detroit youth, and lets parents handle domestic responsibilities while their kids learn.


Education has taken a non-traditional approach with pop-up learning spaces that take youth outside of the classroom environment. In Detroit, this method is taking form in the laundromat.

Through the Wash and Learn program, an initiative launched by the Detroit Public Library and supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, this unique learning style gives parents time to handle domestic responsibilities while children are engaged in educational activities with librarians. 

“The beauty of this project is that librarians are going to where the people are.” – Kamilah Henderson, Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan

“The beauty of this project is that librarians are going to where the people are,” says Kamilah Henderson, senior program officer for the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan. “Librarians are the key to figuring out what the community needs. So this works out very nicely because they have a captive audience, and each neighborhood has a different feel to it.” 

In 2017, Wash and Learn ran a successful pilot phase. It was a partnership between Libraries Without Borders on a national scale; Brilliant Detroit on the local angle and the Detroit Public Library. With their current grant, the program is in expansion mode and currently has three active locations: Coinless Laundromat on Oakman Blvd. in the North End community, Coin Laundry and Coin-O-Matic on Greenfield Rd. in the Grandmont/Rosedale neighborhood. 

Click the player to hear CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper interview Kamilah Henderson about the importance of Wash and Learn and its impact on community. 

Support the news you love.

Here at WDET, we strive to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a non-profit public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. Because you value WDET as your source of news, music, and conversation, please make a gift of support today. Even $5 helps!

Donate today »


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.