About one third of public school students in Florida cannot read on grade level by the end of third grade. This milestone is a strong predictor of graduation rates as it ultimately translates to more than 60 percent of public school 10th graders struggling, unable to read at grade level.
ReadingPals is a statewide early literacy initiative that provides volunteer mentors for students from Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) to 3rd grade who may need extra help, utilizing one-on-one or small group settings. Just an hour a week can make big difference for struggling children. That’s why United Way of Central Florida’s Early Literacy Initiative is seeking 200+ volunteers interested in helping children succeed academically. The initiative, sponsored by the Carol and Barney Barnett fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation, focuses on engaging, training and deploying volunteer “ReadingPals” to increase the number of students reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
In conjunction with local school districts, Early Learning Coalitions, Children’s Services Councils and The Children’s Movement of Florida, this initiative, which began in 2012, has expanded to 17 Florida United Ways servicing communities in 26 counties.
The statewide ReadingPals initiative pillars for achievement are:
1.) To build genuine, impactful relationships between students and our volunteer mentors.
2.) To help students build a strong social-emotional foundation through self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
3.) To improve students understanding of the fundamental building blocks of early literacy.
Volunteers interested in becoming a ReadingPal will receive training and will be matched with kindergarten children across 14 area schools who can benefit from this focused reading time. Teaching experience is not required. (Research shows that male volunteers are especially effective with young children and that men of color are the ideal match for minority children.)
ReadingPals are asked to volunteer for one hour, one day a week using a curriculum designed by Polk County Schools. Activities compliment the core competencies five and six year old students are required to master. Under the supervision of classroom teachers and initiative trainers, ReadingPals will be asked to provide two 30-minute/back-to-back tutoring sessions weekly.
The ReadingPals early literacy initiative helps students establish a foundation for reading by improving vocabulary, listening skills, comprehension, and visual and auditory memory. By becoming a ReadingPal, you can change the life of a child – forever!