AARP Reading Program in Phoenix Schools
AARP Experience Corps and AARP Arizona staff joined Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Michael Nowakowski and several school superintendents at Heard Elementary recently to unveil a new partnership developed to improve reading skills for Phoenix elementary school students.
The AARP Experience Corps model utilizes highly trained volunteer tutors 50 and older to help children become great readers by the time they finish third grade. During the 2012-2013 school year, 50 percent of Experience Corps students improved one or more levels in reading and literacy performance over the course of a year. Most teachers reported a strong or moderate impact on reading and literacy performance and on moving students toward reading at grade level.
Mayor Stanton was instrumental in securing the program for Phoenix schools as part of Read On Phoenix – Stanton’s effort to get local students reading at grade level by third grade.
Phoenix is one of many cities that are committed to addressing early literacy in their community. Read On Phoenix is part of the statewide effort of Read on Arizona, a partnership of agencies, philanthropic organizations and community stakeholders committed to creating an effective continuum of services to improve language and literacy outcomes for Arizona’s children.
“We applaud the Mayor’s vision in selecting an intergenerational approach to improving literacy outcomes for students in Phoenix,” said Diane Grigsby-Jackson, AARP Experience Corps senior strategic partnerships adviser. “Our tutors provide more than reading assistance; teachers say children also improve their confidence, attendance and classroom behavior after working with Experience Corps volunteers.”
During the 2014-2015 school year, AARP Experience Corps will expand to four Phoenix elementary school districts: Fowler, Tolleson, Phoenix and Riverside.
Experience Matters, a local nonprofit, will team up with City of Phoenix and AARP Experience Corps to leverage the AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Encore Fellow programs and provide management, coordination and resources to place reading tutors in designated Phoenix elementary schools.
AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell said he anticipates a significant level of interest from AARP members in these new volunteer opportunities. “This effort aligns with our members’ interest in a new type of retirement, one in which people explore new possibilities and new directions as they grow older,” said Mitchell.
AARP Experience Corps currently serves nearly 30,000 students nationwide. Phoenix is the 22nd city to join the AARP Experience Corps network.