Program that helps students improve reading in need of volunteers

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INDIANAPOLIS — A program that works to improve elementary students reading skills needs help.  

United Way’s ReadUp program is recruiting more volunteers so they can reach more kids. 

The program focuses on bringing 3rd graders up to grade-level reading. Studies show it’s a pivotal moment to increase their success, and it’s something even students recognize can benefit their futures.  

“I like to read with different grown-ups,” said Jesus Hernandez who is a student in the program. 

Hernandez gets to practice important skills thanks to ReadUp. 

“The whole point is that we connect volunteers to local schools so they can read with two 3rd graders, and we work on grade level literacy.” 

Right now, the program is in 23 schools with about 250 volunteers, but organizers want more.  

“We just know that literacy is something that’s desperately needed for our kiddos, and we would love for people to come and support this program,” said education initiatives manager Taylor Rhodes. 

Rhodes, who oversees the program, says they are seeing more students who are further behind in their reading. 

“There could be a number of factors. The easiest one to blame is because of COVID and virtual school and just not getting the individualized attention that they’re used to,” Rhodes said. 

They are asking people to sign up to give an hour a week, to go to a school of your choice, and tutor.  

“Your whole lifetime is built on being able to successfully read,” said principal of William Penn School 49 Karen Linn. 

Linn says is not only rewarding but appreciated.  

“I mean, it’s addicting. When you connect with our kids and you see their smiling faces just so excited to see you.”

A lesson, students like Emmanuel Garcia have already picked up on. 

“Because you need to learn stuff to be successful in life,” Garcia said. 

They do offer virtual training for volunteers and give them a tutoring manual.  

If you are interested in paying it forward and becoming a mentor, click here for more information.  

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