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August 14, 2023

Local literacy nonprofit needs volunteers for upcoming school year

Originally posted on NBCDFW

Brenda Shepherd Jones considers herself a lifelong learner. She wants the same for young students across North Texas, no matter their background. It’s why she is the senior program coordinator for Americorps in our area. Oftentimes, her full-time job pulls her in to help.

“Any time that a volunteer is not able to come in, because like I said, we have a lot of students for testing or vacationing or summer, summer, I mean, not summer, spring break, then I volunteer and I tutor as well,” Jones Shepherd said.

She oversees hundreds of volunteers who fan out across North Texas to help children get to or exceed grade-level reading after being identified as a child who could use extra help in the classroom.

Many of those volunteers are students themselves from Texas Christian University or the University of Texas- Arlington.

“It’s anything from learning their ABCs, to phonics, fluency, we do the whole nine yards,” Jones Shepherd said.

She said it’s about giving these kids more than just a lesson from a book.

“If they come in and they have a volunteer that’s sitting in front of them with a smile on their face, its just more inviting and more welcoming. They feel like they are coming to a warm place where they can learn and they can thrive,” Jones Shepherd said.

The Americorps partnership with Reading Partners North Texas, a local nonprofit working to enhance childhood literacy, has been around since 2012. They help mobilize members, specifically into Title I schools, to help. Her job is to not only identify the volunteers, but also get them trained, so they are ready to help.

Nearly two dozen schools in the Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD are still in need of volunteers to help with their mission for the 2023-2024 school year. Volunteers can also work virtually with the student if that is more convenient. There is no experience required and all of the training will be given to the volunteer, including materials for tutoring sessions.

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