In order for all of our students to succeed, the education system must provide the academic support and encouragement at-risk children need to thrive. Too many students enter school unprepared and that makes it tough for them to keep pace with their better-off peers. Others lose interest along the way unless a concerned adult intervenes to prevent behaviors that can lead to them drop out later. National service programs are in schools and building capacity in communities across America. Our AmeriCorps members are helping to improve students’ academic achievement by increasing their engagement and providing one-on-one time with a concerned, involved adult. Learn more about National Service’s impact on education here.
Recently, Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration making 2014 a year of service to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of UServeUtah and to challenge citizens to serve their communities. Throughout this year of service we will focus on several major areas of volunteerism and National Service with the goal of inspiring more citizens to volunteer. For our Education focus area we have highlighted the great work being done by Utah volunteers and outlined ways you can get involved:
Volunteer. Support Utah’s Students:
- Volunteer in the classroom to help a teacher and student
- Mentor and tutor students in your local community
- Coordinate a local book drive to help fill the school’s library
- Help raise awareness of the needs in Utah’s education system
- Find a volunteer opportunity near you online
- Challenge your family and friends to volunteer with our “You Got Served! Pay it Forward!” campaign and then Share Your Service Story
- Check out the great local community organizations listed below
Neighborhood House is a nonprofit preschool and daycare facility that provides high quality, affordable services for children and adults, based on their ability to pay. Volunteers play an essential role in the work they do. Neighborhood House is currently looking for volunteers to serve as Classroom Assistants and Substitute Teachers. They are also looking for a Librarian and volunteers to develop enrichment programs. For more information on becoming a volunteer at Neighborhood House, contact Anna Ferris at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at http://nhutah.org/volunteer .
Holy Cross Ministries strengthens home and school connections by addressing barriers to learning and providing programs that enable academic, social, emotional, and physical development from preschool through elementary school. They have two education programs; an After School Program and a School Readiness Program. In the After School Program, they need volunteers to support children with academics such as homework and reading. Volunteers also coach children to improve their social and emotional skills. In the School Readiness Program volunteers support the teacher in the classroom. The program’s goal is to ensure that children are well prepared, academically, socially, and physically to enter school. If you would like to volunteer please visit the Holy Cross Ministries website.
The Bennion Center at the University of Utah is working to find tutors for at risk students at Bryant Middle School. Tutors are needed in a variety of subject areas including math, science, language arts, reading, and English language development. These tutors spend about 1 hour per week working with students in classrooms to offer them the one-on-one attention they need to succeed. Currently, Bryant is one of the most diverse middle schools in the Salt Lake City School District, with programs serving gifted students, as well as English language learners. Our hope is that college students and community members mentoring our students will have a positive influence, encouraging them to set goals to pursue a High School Diploma and seek post High School educational opportunities. Success at this level can make a lifelong difference for a student. For more information or to begin volunteering at Bryant, contact Scott Anjewierden at email@example.com or visit their website.
The United Way of Utah County manages two VISTA projects; the EveryDay Learners program and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC helps newly arrived school aged refugees with a variety of programs aimed at helping them succeed in school. The IRC provides tutoring, mentoring, parent orientation, and after school enrichment programs. The EveryDay Learners program is focused on helping every child read at grade level. To reach this goal they are engaging volunteers from local organizations as tutors, encouraging community volunteers to host reading parties, providing education to parents on how to help children become fluent readers, and supplying books to children. The EveryDay Learners program is also accepting book donations that they will place in over 100 locations in the community. If you are interested in volunteering with the United Way of Utah County please visit their website or call 801-374-2588.
The Foster Grandparents program at Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services is recruiting volunteers to help in elementary schools and day care centers where they will assist children with academics and school readiness. Foster Grandparent volunteers must be 55 years of age or older, have a limited income, and be able and willing to serve 20 hours per week. If you would like to join the team please visit their website or call 385- 468-3200.
The US Dream Academy is an after school mentoring and volunteer program with a mission is to serve youth grades 2nd through 8th that have a history of incarceration in their family. They concentrate on academics, character building, dream building, and encouraging youth to achieve academic excellence while exposing them to future academic and life opportunities. The US Dream Academy is currently looking for volunteers to tutor and coach youth and also to the help with their annual Read-A-Thon event. If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved please visit their website.
The YMCA of Northern Utah has after-school programs in 11 schools in Ogden that provide youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. They also have two preschool programs and are beginning STEM programs for three high schools in Ogden. They have a Community Family Center in Taylorsville that houses before and after school programs for four different schools in Salt Lake County, three preschool classes, and kindergarten academy. The YMCA also has tutoring programs at six schools in Salt Lake County. The YMCA always needs volunteers in their out-of-school time programs, preschools, and in the office. They also have volunteer opportunities throughout the year at a variety of special events. You can find all of their volunteer opportunities at ymcautah.org under the “get involved” tab.
Davis County RSVP is a federally funded program through the Corporation for National and Community Service and is locally sponsored by Davis County Senior Services. Senior Corps/RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for people 55 years of age and over. Davis RSVP focuses on volunteer service that enhances independent living, education, and service to veterans and military families. Davis County RSVP offers a full range of volunteer opportunities with local nonprofit organizations. Find out more about volunteering with Davis County RSVP here.
PlayWorks believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. They work with elementary schools and support them in creating a safe space on the playground where students can learn social and emotional skills through play and physical activity. After a productive recess time, students then return to the classroom ready to learn and grow academically. PlayWorks is always looking for volunteers to come play at recess, find more on their website.
The Utah Read Today AmeriCorps Literacy Initiative was created to help teachers meet the challenge of No Child left behind. This program provides schools across the state with AmeriCorps members who serve as a resource to classroom teachers in improving reading instruction for challenged students and improve home literacy efforts. The members recruit and train community volunteers to tutor children and coordinate cross-age tutoring programs. The focus is in the primary grades 1-3 to assure that children are reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. Click here to volunteer.
The Utah Campus Compact AmeriCorps Program utilizes students at nine colleges and universities in the state to provide support to hundreds of community organizations through direct service and volunteer recruitment, thereby increasing capacity for organizations to continue providing much-needed services in the areas of education, veteran support, healthy futures, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship.Find out more about volunteering with Campus Compact here.
Volunteers Impact Academic Success in Utah:
- Last year, US Dream Academy youth read aloud 112,373 minutes during their annual Read-A-Thon event designed to promote literacy and raise money.
- The Foster Grandparents program at Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services has approximately 60 volunteers in elementary schools and day care centers where they assist children with academics and school readiness.
- Since January of 2014 Eagle Scouts have purchased the supplies for and built 8 EveryDay Learners bookshelves. They have also donated $6896.97 worth of books to stock these shelves for children.
- As a result of the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) work 83% of parents reported that their children gained more confidence and self-esteem.
- In 2013, 73 IRC volunteers supported refugee youth, providing 2,137 hours of service equal to $38,872.
- Neighborhood House had over 1,100 volunteers donate over 4,800 hours both inside the classroom and outside the classroom providing overall support to the organization.
- Bennion Center volunteers donated over 920 hours of their time to tutor 45 students at Bryant Middle School during the 2013-2014 school year. Students who attended regular tutoring saw increases in their GPA over the course of the year.
- Volunteer service changes the lives of volunteers as well as the recipients of service as indicted in quote from a Holy Cross Ministries volunteer: “This summer I was able to build close relationships to all of the children I worked with…. I went into this program intending to give back to those less fortunate than me …However, I realized that in the end, this program was so much more than just ‘giving back.’ In fact, I think I ended up receiving much more than I actually gave. I went into the program seeing myself as a ‘healer’, someone separate… I realized that a relationship is a two-way street. It is nearly impossible to be in a relationship where one merely gives or takes.”
- Last year, The YMCA of Northern Utah had 736 volunteers donate 7,888 hours of service.
- Davis County RSVP has 12 volunteers serving in 7 Elementary schools in Davis County as literacy tutors. Each volunteer works with two or three students throughout the year at each school.
- In 2013, approximately 168 students received reading intervention from Davis County RSVP volunteers during the academic year.
- A randomized control trial found that when PlayWorks partners with schools bullying decreases, kids are more vigorously physically active, students feel safer at school, and
teachers gain over 20 hours of instructional time back.
- PlayWorks AmeriCorps members serve at 9 low-income elementary schools across the Wasatch Front and provide daily programming for over 5,000 students.