February’s BIG IDEA

Literacy and Education

“Train up a child in the way that he should go…” –Proverbs 22:6

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, merely 18.7 percent of African Americans over age 25 held a Bachelors degree or higher in 2007.  It is no wonder, then, that Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Marin City, California, located ten miles north of San Francisco, decided to improve these statistics by addressing the issues of academic preparedness and literacy in their community. 

In 2004, Cornerstone Community COGIC, under the leadership of Pastor Jonathan Logan and program director Bettie Hodges, began the Hannah Project.  Ms. Hodges, who worked on the church’s scholarship committee, realized that fewer and fewer kids were attending college.  Later, she learned that some parents were unable to help their children with college applications because of the parents’ limited education.  It became evident to Ms. Hodges that the church should take on the responsibility of guiding students through the college entrance process.  Thus, the Hannah Project began as a way to give students and their parents information about the SAT, FAFSA (student aid), and other college requirements.  The project coordinators discovered, however, that students needed help prior to completing applications, so the Hannah Project began providing tutoring, SAT preparation, and college tours for students.  The Project also provides support group assistance for parents, providing them with peer group opportunities, helping with communication skill-building, and functioning as a prayer group. 

The Hannah Project is a ministry of Cornerstone Community COGIC.  Families who participate in the Project do not have to be members of Cornerstone.  Participation is open to families from the surrounding community.  The Hannah Project has also partnered with schools that refer students to the program, find mentors for students, and provide space for the program.  Due to the generous donations of organizations, including the College Access Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation, the Milagro Foundation, and private donors, participants are able to pay deeply-discounted activity fees and are guaranteed financial support upon completion of the program. 

Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ implemented its BIG IDEA to confront what Pastor Logan identifies as the “educational divide” in Marin City, California.  The Hannah Project bridges the gap between high school graduation and college entrance for a number of students who otherwise might not successfully complete either.  This church of less than 200 members is demonstrating innovative ministry through its commitment to making education accessible for all members of the community. 

If your church or community is interested in developing or expanding a literacy or education program, the following national and community organizations can assist with your project:

  • U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers
    (800) USA-LEARN or (800) 872-5327
    List of state contact information:

  • U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
    (202) 219-1741

  • The White House Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
    List of State Contacts and Liasons:

  • Harry Chapin Foundation
    (631) 423-7558

  • The Chatlos Foundation, Inc.
    (407) 862-5077

  • Churches that have implemented homeless programs

  • Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ
    626 Drake Avenue
    Marin City, CA 94965
    (415) 332-4295
    Pastor Jonathan Logan

  • Cookman United Methodist Church
    1201 W. Lehigh Avenue
    Philadelphia, PA 19132
    (215) 229-4477
    Pastor Donna Jones

  • New Holly Light Missionary Baptist Church
    6300 Highway 187
    Anderson, SC 29625
     (864) 646-8279
    Pastor Curtis Hill
  • Books

  • Black Economics: Solutions for Economic and Community Empowerment by Jawanza Kunjufu

  • Can the Black Church Save Young Black America? Closing the Educational Achievement Gap by Dr. Temeca L. Richardson

  • Literacy in African American Communities by Joyce L. Harris, Alan G. Kamhi, and Karen E. Pollack

  • Planning for Volunteers in Literacy:  A Guidebook funded by UPS and available from the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)

  • Tutoring Adolescent Literacy Learners:  A Guide for Volunteers by Kelly Chandler-Olcott and Kathleen A. Hinchman


    2013 Units