Tutoring program helps children across Detroit

Stepping Stones to Success meets Saturday mornings during school year

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DETROIT – Large class sizes and a lack of funding plague public schools across the country, and Detroit is no exception. The result is children struggling to learn the basics.

Aretha Davis, Linda Lee and Zion Chapel Church in Detroit came up with a solution: a tutoring program.

"The church came alongside of us and built us a computer lab," Davis said. "They gave us the space, and we've basically taken over the church basement."

Stepping Stones to Success was initially created to serve the children of the church. Word quickly spread, and Davis and Lee found themselves running a program for children across Detroit.

"Children need to know that they are in a comfortable, safe environment and they won't be afraid if they are having difficulties," Lee said.

Thanks to grants and donations from area organizations and a devoted retired Detroit Public Schools bus driver, the tutoring program meets every Saturday morning during the school year.

The tutors' work with children from grades pre-K through eighth grade on mathematics, science and creative writing -- all free of charge.

"(It's) just seeing the dedication of the students every week. They don't have to be there on a Saturday morning. They don't have to get up out of bed. They could be doing a lot of other things, but to see the dedication of the student, it tells me that I need to be dedicated, and come and try to help them meet their needs," Davis said.

The growth that organizers see is rewarding.

"We do a lot of peer activity with the students, so in a small setting there they're comfortable and happy, and they are enthusiastic about learning, and that is why I do it," Lee said.

"You wanted to be a part of that," Mitch Albom said.

"Uh huh, yes," Lee said.

Step by step, Davis, Lee and all the volunteers at Stepping Stones to Success are creating a community of learning in the heart of Detroit.

Heart of Detroit