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Heard on CultureShift

Detroit’s Wash and Learn Initiative Takes School Into Laundromats

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Image credit: Libraries Without Borders US

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

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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. 

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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host and producer of CultureShift. His feature reporting received a 2020 Regional Murrow award. Follow @HooperRadio

LaToya Cross, Producer, CultureShift

LaToya Cross is a Producer with CultureShift, where she produces in-depth content that spotlights creatives and individuals using their platform to examine, cultivate, shape and shift culture. Follow @ToizStory

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