It was by far the most rewarding part of my day. It felt really good to pass on the love of reading to a young student. Plus the people in the program and running the program were fantastic.
EW!USA makes a difference in the lives of countless through a very simple belief of one child, one book, and one reader. This simple connection drives fantastic results. The excitement that is generated for learning in children when an adult takes the time to read is unmatched. Nobody does it better than EW!USA
Unfortunately, I don't live close enough to a city served by Everybody Wins! in order to be a reading mentor. I have, however, followed the work this organization does in the communities in which it serves. I've donated books to the DC chapter and have donated books to their online auction. Everybody Wins! is dedicated to serving children, as well as being an important voice in raising awareness of literacy issues.
I met National Executive Director Rich Greif through Twitter (social media works!). As a passionate supporter of literacy efforts, I can not say enough good about the important work Everybody Wins! is doing. All the people I've met in this organization are fired up about what they're doing too. Reaching out to children and helping them become readers early on is so fundamental in increasing education. Do you realize the overall positive impact on society when more citizens are literate? It is HUGE!
I have been an EW! reading mentor in Stamford CT for three years now, and it is a powerful experience. There is nothing more exciting than reading with a young elementary school student and discussing the characters and ideas in the books we share. The young boys I have worked with are always excited on "Power Lunch" days, because they come to associate reading with the focused attention of a caring adult. EW research shows that this positive experience carries over into other academic achievement for the students, as well as fostering a better attitude toward reading and learning overall. This is a valuable, valuable program.
During the time I was organizing The America Reads Challenge I organized the U. S. Department of Education's partnership with Everybody Wins! for two years and served as a volunteer myself. I also periodically read with Senators Kennedy and Jeffords and their students. I watched this program light a fire in children's eyes regarding that tough subject called "reading"...it became exciting and they were eager each week after a while to show me how they were reading so much better and also understood what they were reading! I now serve as the President of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and work in collaboration with Everybody Wins; some RIF staff serve as Everybody Wins volunteers.
Weekly a group of volunteers from my business walk/drive to the nearby elementary school and spend our lunch reading with elementary school students who are reading below their grade level. Everybody wins is a great non-profit that does a fantastic job organizing the volunteering - they organize everything with the school, pick and drop off students in their classroom, and provide books for reading.
I was brought to this organization through AmeriCorps and immediately found a connection to their mission. Reading, from childhood to now, has played an integral role in my life by providing me with hours of exploration in worlds only accessible in my head and experiences had vicariously through my "friends" in the books I read. I was one of the lucky few who was read to constantly as a child and find it disturbing that among under resourced students, the students come to school with an average of less that 25 hours of reading time. I find myself feeling for those families that are so busy striving to make ends meet they can't afford the time to sit and read purely for the joy of reading. I find myself wanting to support efforts to instill in children the importance of reading and the benefits it can bring. This effort is called Everybody Wins!
From September 2009 to May 2010, I worked under Rich Grief, the National Executive Director for Everybody Wins! I focused on the Power Lunch, a signature lunchtime reading/mentoring program. First off, Rich is inspirational; his life is dedicated to raising awareness of this program, and ensuring that it actually works (and trust me, it does. For example, more than 87% of Power Lunchers improved their reading comprehension). As for the raising awareness part, Rich is innovative in this approach: he assigned me the task of analyzing potential nonprofit partners and corporate partnerships in over 50 cities, he had a class at Babson College use my initial research to form recommendations, utilizing social media, using losing weight as an incentive for others to donate to Everybody Wins!, amongst other cool ideas. From my perspective, this organization has garnered a lot of attention based on these ideas, and will continue to do so.
Everybody Wins! lives out their name everyday. Companies win by having an opportunity to make a direct impact in their communities. Schools win by having additional reading focus during the school day, without pulling the children out of class. Kids win by getting that additional reading time, including exposure to materials or topics perhaps they wouldn't have picked for themselves. And, volunteers win by having a structured and manageable way to make a difference in the life of a child. I am a mom of two and work full time - I see my time with Everybody Wins! as a great investment. In addition, having the chance to work with the same child for consecutive school years really lets me see how my reading buddy has grown and improved his reading and comprehension skills.