Twenty-three Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Reading Buddies gathered at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Sept. 17 for a “Reboot.”  Although the standard definition of “Reboot” is to restart following program failure, RSVP Reading Buddy volunteers have succeeded in “big ways.”

    “Teachers utilizing RSVP Reading Buddy volunteers during the past school year reported that 100% of students had improved literacy skills!” said the release.

    What started as a pilot program in the Spring 2012, with 5 volunteers and one school, has now grown to 34 Reading Buddies, five of whom are newly recruited this school year.  

    Eight regional schools, including Crookston, Fertile-Beltrami, Climax-Shelly, Red Lake Falls, Stephen-Argyle, Twin Valley, Ada, and Hallock, welcome Reading Buddy helpers to their Kindergarten-5th grade classrooms. Reading Buddy volunteers are primarily placed in K-2nd grade classrooms, however, students up to 5th grade may be included as needed.

    Research shows that students who receive consistent, additional reading aloud practice time become successful readers compared to those students who do not. Statistics indicate that students who fall behind in literacy development and do not catch up by age 7, have only a 25% chance of ever claiming grade-level proficiency.  Students who can’t read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

    The intergenerational programming focuses on giving young, struggling readers additional time to practice reading aloud, with a helpful, caring adult offering encouragement and reading prompts.  Whether one-on-one or in a group, these Senior Corp Volunteers are making a difference… today, tomorrow and always.  

    RSVP is a Senior Corp program, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering, service and civic engagement.  CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corp programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. 

    For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

    If you are interested in making a difference as a Reading Buddy Volunteer, please call or email Tammy: 218-281-8289 or tsykes@umn.edu or Jennifer at 218-281-8288 or jkerdman@umn.edu.