Volunteers needed for Schools of Hope

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Grand Valley State University is pairing with the Heart of West Michigan United Way to help recruit volunteers for the United Way Schools of Hope program.

The program’s mission is to raise literacy skills in children, youth, and families through in-school tutoring and a family literacy program. The program is important to overall student success — the Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates that children who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. 

In West Michigan, the Schools of Hope program pairs volunteers with first- through third-grade students in Grand Rapids, Cedar Springs, Godfrey-Lee, and Godwin Heights schools who need help in reading in order to bring their ability to the same level as their peers in surrounding districts. Volunteer tutors read with the same child each week for 30 minutes. The results of the program are tangible, as students in the program consistently outperform those who are not in the program. 

Becoming a tutor helps improve early-grade reading. To sign up, visit hwmuw.org/soh or register for GVSU’s on campus training, Thursday, October 10, noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center room 2201. For more information,  contact Sue Sloop at sloops@gvsu.edu. A one-time training takes an hour and a half. Tutors can choose a schedule that works for them, even reading every other week by sharing a student with a co-worker or friend. Tutors can pick the school location they prefer, or go where the need is greatest.

There is currently a waiting list of students who need help.

Last year, United Way’s Schools of Hope:

— Provided 750 students with one-on-one reading tutors;

— Empowered 250 parents with increased English reading and comprehension skills;

— Operated in 34 sites in schools, neighborhoods and communities;

— Connected 1,000 tutors to help children be successful readers.