Volunteers Needed for the First Grade READS Program

Make a difference in our community by tutoring first graders this coming school year.
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tutor working with studentThe City’s early childhood initiative, GrowSmart, is searching for volunteers to serve as mentors and tutors in the First Grade READS program for the upcoming school year.  First grade READS supports young learners in strengthening their literacy skills which are critical to their educational success. 

 Research shows the stakes are high:
  • A child not reading at grade level by the end of first grade has an 88% chance of not reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade.
  • A child who does not read proficiently by third grade is four times more likely than a skilled reader to drop out of school without earning a diploma. 
  • Those without a high school diploma are 70 percent more likely to be unemployed
  • 80 percent of America’s federal prison inmates are high school dropouts

The First Grade READS program is seeking volunteers for the 2019-2020 school year (beginning in October) at Bayside, Luxford, Point O’View, Shelton Park, Thalia and White Oaks Elementary Schools.  From October to early May, volunteers will work with two students for one hour in the morning anywhere from one day a week to four days a week depending on their preference and availability. 

The long-term goal is to ensure that all students can read at or above grade level by the end of first grade and continue to read proficiently through third grade. Achieving this critical milestone can mean the difference between a child who goes on to have a successful educational experience and one who struggles for the rest of his or her academic career. 

Volunteers will provide one-on-one time with striving first-graders whose teachers have determined could benefit from additional support to strengthen their reading ability and confidence. First grade is a crucial time for learning and developing an early reading foundation which has a tremendous impact on future academic success. Volunteers work in the classroom under the supervision of school staff during a child’s scheduled reading time. 

These are long-term volunteer opportunities and dedicating one-to-two hours a week from October to May will help support a child’s love of reading and learning. The power of a mentor increase children’s attendance and engagement in learning and allows tutors to build a trusting relationship with the student over time.  

If you’re interested, but can’t commit to every week, substitute volunteers who can fill-in play a huge role in making the program a success. All volunteers must be over the age of 18 to complete an application, pass a background check, and go through an initial and annual two-hour training session where they’ll learn about the program, mentoring and lesson planning. Volunteers are also required to scan their state ID at the assigned school’s “Raptor System” and wear a printed sticker with their photo and name while inside the building. 

First Grade READS is looking to recruit 120 volunteers by early October. For more information, visit the Virginia Beach READS website​ or contact VBGrowSmart@VBgov.com or 757-385-6495. 


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