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North County Messenger

Volunteers Needed to Help Kids Read

Oct 10, 2019 12:00AM ● By By Kristin ThÃ(c)baud, Kristin ThÃ(c)baud Communications

Teaching children to read opens them to the vast world of learning and stimulates their curiosity. United Way Experience Corps Photo.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Local residents age 50 and up are needed this fall to help kids in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading through AARP Experience Corps, managed locally by United Way California Capital Region. To learn more and sign up to volunteer, visit

“Kids who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are more likely to fall behind in all subjects, including math and science, making them less likely to graduate from high school,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This corps of volunteers is essential to ensuring our community’s kids are successful.”

Volunteers serve at local schools approximately two days per week for two to three hours a day throughout the school year, tutoring and tracking progress for groups of two to three students for the year. Volunteers meet monthly to share best practices and receive literacy and classroom management experience. They receive training to become mentors and role models and to hone their skills to help students reach their reading goals.

Last year, United Way’s AARP Experience Corps helped 415 students with reading – 62 percent of those who were reading below grade level improved their reading and literary performance. In 2018, program participant Robla School District reported more students meeting and exceeding standards in English Language Arts compared to 2017 – the rate of annual increase was three times higher than state and county averages.

“The results are encouraging and worth the work,” said Experience Corps volunteer Mary Ann Rider. “I never felt like I was cut out to be a teacher, but I felt prepared by the curriculum I had learned in our training. Plus getting to know the kids is fun. If you’re looking for volunteer work, what’s more important than helping a child learn to read?”

United Way California Capital Region is one of only seven nonprofits across the country helping to grow Experience Corps, the evidence-based AARP Foundation literacy program that improves the reading skills of children, enriches the lives of volunteer tutors and strengthens schools in local communities.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: