United Way’s early literacy program expands into two new schools
AARP Experience Corps to support 19 schools across the region

United Way Hero

Only half of all third graders in our five county region are reading at grade level according to the 2018 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).

As part of United Way’s efforts to boost early literacy in our region, nearly 60 volunteers will tutor local students through the AARP Experience Corps program starting this fall. United Way has expanded the program and is partnering with two more schools for a total of 19 campuses to provide onsite reading support throughout the school year. 

Last year, United Way volunteers logged in 1,800 hours with AARP Experience Corps. After one year of tutoring, 62% of students who were below grade level at the start of the school year improved their reading and literacy performance by one or more levels.

We sat down with Principal Sandra Brown at Samuel Kennedy Elementary School in Sacramento to chat about AARP Experience Corps. Her school will be one of two new locations this year. 

How did you first learn about United Way’s AARP Experience Corps?
Four years ago when I was Vice Principal at Union House Elementary School, we were looking for ways we could provide additional tutoring for our students. Some of our teachers were tutoring in our after-school program. So, when United Way called and offered free tutoring for our students, it was really a wonderful gift. We started our collaboration there and we were one of the first sites to launch the program.

How does United Way’s AARP Experience Corps make a difference for students and at schools?
Over time, our teachers definitely saw an increase in our students’ academic ability. It was exciting to see some of our struggling readers become strong readers. When we focus on reading, their grades improve.

What makes this program unique?
We are thrilled to have AARP Experience Corps at our school this year. I’m excited to have extra help and to have the relationships and connections with the volunteers from United Way.

United Way volunteers want to be a part of our community. They want to make positive change. And, they find joy in helping students increase their academic abilities. It’s fun to see how the students change. They love coming to school more because they have these relationships. We, as a support team at the school, get to know volunteers personally and we build relationships with them too. They become a part of us. And, we become a part of their world.  We all benefit.