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April 15, 2016

National Volunteer Week: WA volunteers help students read

This article was originally published by Public News Service

SEATTLE – It’s National Volunteer Week, a celebration of all those who give their time to support their communities, and Washingtonians get high marks for their service.

One-third of the state’s residents volunteered, giving 155 million hours of their time in 2014, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. One way Washingtonians are making a difference is with the nonprofit Reading Partners.

“We would usually start by me reading a story that he had picked out out loud to him for about 10 minutes,” said Liza Turner, a former volunteer tutor with the organization. “And then we’d get into our lesson, which involved vocabulary words, reading, spelling. And then he would read his story to me.”

Reading Partners helps tutor children to read at grade level by fourth grade. The organization has more than 14,000 volunteers across the country.

Two-thirds of fourth-graders nationwide are not reading at grade level, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Of lower-income students, 80 percent are not proficient readers. Turner said Reading Partners is looking to reduce the gap in achievement early in students’ lives.

“We’re still working with them when it’s easy for them to catch up with their classmates,” she said. “As kids get older and fall further behind, it makes it a little more challenging to make up for lost time.”

Reading Partners has helped students in under-resourced public schools since 1999.

Data on volunteerism in Washington is online at volunteeringinamerica.gov. The Annie E. Casey Foundation study is at aecf.org.

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