June 24, 2016

Saginaw Community Writing Center

SVSU creates first community writing center in Michigan at local library

SVSU-Writing-Center-blog-picAccording to a recent National Center for Education Statistics report, 10% of the population of Saginaw County lacks basic literacy skills, one of the highest rates in Michigan. Literacy skills are critical to helping find employment, where in Saginaw County the unemployment rate stood at 12.4% (as of December 2014). 


To tackle this issue, Saginaw Valley State University approached SCF with a grant request to fund a community writing center. A center that would assist individuals of all ages in learning how to write effectively. 


The very first community writing center was established in 2001 sponsored by Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City, Utah. In just a few short years, the center had helped more than 1,000 people with their writing. SVSU Writing Center Assistant Director Chris Giroux learned of this unique community collaboration while attending a conference just a few years ago.


“I realized that this is something that could be brought to our community and people could benefit from.”


Nationwide today there are 72 colleges and universities with a community writing center component. The Saginaw Community Writing Center (SCWC) is the only one located in Michigan.



The purpose of a community writing center is to serve members of the community of all ages by offering various writing workshops. The workshops, led by SVSU student tutors, cover topics such as writing business letters, creating resumés, composing professional emails, journal writing and creative writing like short stories and poems. Tutors also have open tutoring hours before and after the workshops.


Connecting with the community

“The whole purpose of a community writing center is to connect with the community it serves,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, SVSU Writing Center director.


Butman-Fish Library at the corner of N. Charles and Hancock Streets in Saginaw was chosen for the location of the Community Writing Center, a neighborhood library located in close proximity to two elementary schools and Willie E. Thompson Middle School, the only middle school in the Saginaw Public Schools District.


The grant from SCF helped establish the SCWC as a two-year pilot program, allowing it to become firmly rooted. 


According to Deb Trombley, director of Butman-Fish Library, SVSU has made an impact by just being at the library.


“Not only are people receiving the assistance they have been asking for, but the assistance is of a great quality.” 


For many, the SCWC is a safe place to simply communicate. It is not uncommon for conversations to begin on the topic of writing and end on a note that is far more personal. Attendees want someone to talk to. They want to be heard.



Learn more

Visit the Saginaw Community Writing Center website.

Download a PDF of Community Threads – Saginaw Community Foundation 2015 Annual Report