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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

In2Books (ePals Foundation)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult & Child Matching Programs, Children & Youth, Education, Literacy, Primary & Elementary Schools, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: To help all children become curious, independent learners and receive the support they need to realize their full academic and personal potential. Children who can not read proficiently by the end of the 3rd grade are are more likely to drop out of school and face diminished life prospects. Students in low income neighborhoods are at the greatest disadvantage in developing these skills. In2Books was founded in 1998 to help students during this critical period by providing innovative curricula, professional development, and engaging business and civic community members as adult mentors.

Target demographics: 3rd-6th grade Title I elementary school classrooms

Community Stories

170 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I thoroughly enjoy participating in "In2Books". Children are the future of our county. What better way to ensure that our country is in good hands than giving our children the opportunity to learn all they can through educating them on the value of every human being and the importance of listening to different points of view and teaching them to consider all these ideas and then make their own decisions. Learning to think for yourself is perhaps one of the most important things that a child can be taught. By communicating with children through "In2Books" they learn to read, think about the deeper meanings of the writer and then discuss those ideas with their pen pal. They learn to communicate their ideas clearly and concisely through letter writing. This not only teaches the child but it keeps me current and the child teaches me as well. We, as pen pals, come from many different parts of the country so we can add value to the child's education by discussing their ideas and adding our thoughts. I firmly believe that this enhances the child's education and their understanding of the world. I would like to see every school participate in this valuable program. It offers a wider view of the world and enhances their classroom experience.

Stacey S.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have participated in In2Books for several years now. It is a great program to help students read and correspond with people outside those that they normally do. I have been delighted to get emails from my new penpals each time and enjoy their insights into the stories.

Barry9

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am a pen pal with a student during the school year. In2Books matches up students and adult pen pals to communicate and discuss books selected by the students' class. The site facilitates the communication, notifying you when it's time to purchase a book. You purchase the same book as the student, read it and send the student a letter with your opinions about the book. You ask relevant questions with an aim to get the student to think more deeply about the meanings. In2Books has an interactive website with templates for letters that make it quite easy to use. The time involved is about 1-2 hours every 6-8 weeks during the school year. The experience is rewarding each and every time you send and receive a letter and realize that you are helping to make a difference in a student's life.

Review from Guidestar

Chery B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I loved corresponding with the 5th grader that I was in contact all year. HIs teacher did a great job of making sure they made their timelines. My student was friendly and always had great insights to what he and his classmates were reading. His responses to my letters were heartfelt and gave me a sense that I was truly connecting to him and his world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great program for any volunteer who loves to read. I loved interacting with a student and reading what they had to say about the books. It also encourages me to read more critically, which is never bad! And you get to read some pretty fun children's books.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a former teacher, In2Books helped me stay connected to what I love most-- helping kids. It was a pleasure to read and share letters with my pen pal. Throughout the year I saw him grow as a reader and writer, and I hope, to love books. He had never been to the state where I live, so it was fun to share what Virginia is like with someone who had never visited here. I was sorry to see our year together end!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

In2Books is a fantastic way for people like myself to help children learn the so important skill of reading, comprehension and a love of books. And all from home! I have worked with the program for several years and have several pen-pals. I love receiving their letters and enjoy hearing their point of view about the books. Some of these little guys have a great sense of humor. I also like knowing they are excited to get my letter too. It is a wonderful program with benefits for all. I would highly recommend this program to everyone!!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I liked being able to communicate directly with my student and watch them learn over the course of the school year. We had some interesting conversations; sometimes they were off-topic, although the discussion had been prompted by the book. The books we read were thought-provoking and well chosen. However, I felt that I didn't make that much of an impact on my student's writing/reading/general learning abilities. Perhaps a little more time could be spend coaching volunteers on how to ask good questions about the books that will spark conversations and allow the student to use critical thinking skills.

Sabina O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great program! Everuthing is online so it fits my schedule. It feels great to see how month by month the student's skills are improving with every book that they read and discuss.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with In2Books was a very rewarding experience for me on many levels. I am a retired English teacher, and I loved having the opportunity to share my love of books with a student who lives across the country from me. We read several different kinds of books and then shared our reading experiences with each other via e-mail. I felt that the books that we read were very well written (and also well illustrated). I enjoyed getting letters from my pen pal and always looked forward to the next book. I know that "writing for an audience" is extremely important for students, so the fact that my student had a "live audience" to read his work must have helped his writing skills. I also felt that I was very well informed as to what was expected of me and what my due dates were. All in all, this was a very positive (and not overly time-consuming) volunteer opportunity. I am signing up again this year!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been volunteering with In2books for two to three years. I have had a great experience each year exchanging letters with students. Each student is so unique and responsive. They all seem so excited to have a penpal also. The tools that In2books provide to their volunteers are great and improve each year. They offer plenty of writing tools and resources to help volunteers understand more about the topic their student is learning. The program is very organized and not too time consuming for individuals who would like to volunteer but have minimal time.

Volunteer

Rating: 2

In 2 Books matches students with an adult ementor. I think this system would have worked better if there were online versions of the books that you could make notes in and discuss. I felt like my student either was not interested in the program or was not given much time to complete the reading/letter writing. I would recieve letters that were very short. For example, "William" would write, "I liked this book. I learned about the weather. My favorite part was..." I would respond with questions about the reading and never got responses. It was not what I expected and was rather disappointing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In2Books is a wonderful program! I began volunteering with In2Books several years ago when I was a junior in college. I love volunteering but between school and work finding the time proved difficult. In2Books allowed me to combine my love of volunteering with reading and I was able to do it from my home! Ever since then I have stuck with the program. The program is very easy to get involved with and is very organized. It takes up very little time so it is a perfect way to give back for those with hectic schedules. I absolutely love receiving letters from the children and reading about how excited they are about the program and about reading books! And not only does In2Books teach a love of reading but it also helps children learn essential computer skills that are needed in today's world. This program is truly wonderful and I am glad to be apart of it!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Other than a few scheduling glitches I believe that this program is great. To be able to interact with kids from different areas of the nation and read books from different genres that they are interested in is truly enjoyable. It's also fun to get the personal letters from the kids; some are so funny. I hope to do it agian when the new school year starts.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

What a fun and wonderful way to promote books and reading with children. I wanted something that would conincide with a busy work and family schedule, and In2Books filled that need perfectly. I had fun reading the books and emailing with my student. He was a personable young man and I greatly enjoyed the experience. It was not a huge time commitment, and I could do it from home. I look forward to continued participation.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

My first year volunteering for into books was a complete flop. The teacher failed to communicate with volunteers and she never proof red the e-mails sent by the students. At the very end of the year she asked all of the volunteers to read a book and reply by a certain date. I did my part and never got a reply from my student. When I looked into this matter, it turns out the date that the teacher set was after school had let out for the summer. So basically she just wasted all of the volunteers time. Regarding the emails written by the students, the student I was corresponding with basically asked me who I thought Sacagawea was sleeping with "Lewis or Clark." UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I tried to toss all of this up to the teacher, and not the entire In2Books system, so I signed up for a second year. This time the teacher simply never responded. She set a calender in the system and then told the volunteers that it was incorrect and she would let up know the dates. Sure she let us know the dates, one day in advance she said I need your letter by tomorrow. REALLY!!! I read a 150 page kids book and never received a letter from my pen pal student. The teacher never got back to us about reading the next book and finally after months of nothing she assigned a new book for us to read. I decided it just wasn't worth my time. The teachers seem to have absolutely NO REGARD for the volunteer's time.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In2Books is a great organization that allowed me to volunteer in a way that fit into my life as a stay-at-home mom with two kids. I love children's books, and I am at the library with my children at least once a week, so finding the book that my pen pal had chosen was easy and painless. My kids enjoy reading the books my pen pal has selected also! The In2Books website does a great job instructing volunteers on how to construct an email message to their pen pal that will provide the most impact and spark the most thought from the student. The teachers in the classroom are also available by email, and sometimes can provide background information on how the book fits into the overall classroom curriculum or about other projects the student may be working on. In2Books is organized and effective, and they make it easy and non-intimidating to be a volunteer. They have harnessed the power of email and the Internet in a positive way to make a difference in classrooms that need it the most.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with In2books.com has been great. I have had three students in the two years that I have participated in this program. I love that the students start to write more as the year progresses. The first few letters that they send are very short and probably filled with nervousness as its the first few emails. But as the school year progresses they write and explain more why they found the books so fascinating. And, they are always interested in knowing your pets! In all our conversations about books we have also discussed pets and who they are in the family. I believe that us connecting in this way helps a lot with the writing longer and more detailed letters as the school year progresses. I love that you can get involved in a child's life simply by writing emails about the book you two have read. I always try to talk to people about this program because it's an easy and simple way of getting a student interested in reading and writing. I hope there will be more participating soon!

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Poorly organized. I was very disappointed by my experience after I had such high expectations going into this endeavor.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

This is an easy way to give back. Low time commitment and enjoyed reading/writing with my mentee pen pal.

Cathy26

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was a great experience. The time was minimal but I really feel that my pen pal looked forward to my mail. She often sent more messages and communication than was required. If I was late, she would say, "what's up? Please send me your message." I enjoyed hearing her perspectives on the books we read and I looked forward to them very much. They were often the highlight of my day.

kmiserany

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In2Books makes it ridiculously easy to make an impact on a child's life. By reading a handful of books in your spare time (and it really only takes a few minutes to read most children's books!) and writing emails about the book to your pen pal, you make these lucky students much more likely to complete their reading and to think about it in deeper, more substantial ways. It's like tutoring a child electronically! And the best part, aside from sharing your love of books, is that you can set your own hours and work on the books and your emails whenever it is convenient for you. I've never seen another organization that makes it so easy (and fun) to give back.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I really didn't know what to expect, this my first year with in2books. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience. It simply required my reading and discussing books with a student. The student was very engaged, and the teacher was easily accessible. I'd like to think I made a difference in this child's life; I'm eager to sign up for another year. I would highly recommend in2books!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

In2Books allows me to interact directly with a child who may not have many role models who are regular readers. I have been doing the program for several years, and each year my pen pal is very grateful for the chance to interact with me to discuss books and other subjects.

Del_

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The experience itself is great as you have that one on one connection with the mentees. I've done it twice and both times have been very interesting even though I have been matched with very different penpals. I have learnt a lot about myself as I had to learn how to speak to children again, instead of professionals as I am used to. It's just such a great experience to be reading with children and seeing the joy of reading in them. However, the company itself is really hard to reach. I have sent emails and have never received responses so was thankful that it was not related to the correspondence with the penpal as I would hate for that to be hindered.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

With In2Books I am partnered with an elementary school student. I read the same book she is reading in school. We then write to each to discuss the book and share some personal experiences. It is almost like having another grandchild! This is made an even better experience for me - it is paying it forward, as all of my children had writing partners in high school and elementary school. The enjoyed both levels and I believe they learned how think of others and see the world through different eyes. These life lessons are now imbedded in their lives.as a high school teacher my partners have been like a breath of the fresh air, so enthusiastic about reading and writing! In2Books asks so little and gives back so much. It is a joy to touch the life of one more child!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering and helping children read these books. I take away from this experience great lessons I have learned from these children such as compassion, honesty and excitement

Linda97

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I absolutely adore opening my email and seeing a message from my ePal. They are so candid, innocent, and full of energy! I love being able to learn about their family, dreams, and life in general. Growing up, I was very distant with my older brother and had always wished someone would listen to me and I think this program offers just that.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came across this website on a random blog one day. As a teacher, it sounded like fun to me. This way I could interact with a child who was not my student in a more lighthearted way than I normally get to do. I have had four pen pals over the last four years and I am looking forward to getting my fifth. It is such a pleasure to email with the students and get to hear about what they are doing in school. They appreciate the time you take to write to them. It is a lot of fun. The kids tell funny stories and like to hear about you, too. It is a really sweet experience and requires little time. I've found most of the books in the local library or used on Amazon and then donated them to my local library. I highly recommend it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a great time working with the kids and reading along with them throughout their school year. I think that this is such an important way to volunteer- not only teaching children about strangers and the way that they perceive things but also reading skills and language comprehension.

Jan_12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have participated as a ePal for 2 years. I read five books with my students and we each write a letter about each book. In the course of the year, we get to know one another. I encourage the student to read and do well in school. In return, I get very rewarding letters back. I also receive correspondence from the teachers. I have read that I am making a positive impact. The students can hardly wait to read my letters and return one to me. It is a wonderful hands-on language arts project. The organization is run very well. There are tutorials, sample letters, writing coaches - a lot of support for the volunteer.

Jane34

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with In2Books for three years. It has been very enjoyable to share my love of reading with these children. Their letters are a joy to read and I feel like I'm able to make a small difference in the life of a child. What a wonderful thing!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with In2Books online epal program for the past 2 school years. It has been a great experience. The kids really enjoy writing about the books their reading and seem to get a higher understanding of them when they talk about them with you. I love participating.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I found this site on-line and was very excited to join. I was matched with an 8 year old girl in Texas and read 2 books together and a few letters. I never heard anything after that, even after contacting the teacher. I finally e-mailed support, and was told the program had not worked out at that school. I hope to be matched again this year, as I found it enjoyable. I don't know why the program did not work at that location, but I do think it is a wonderful idea and should be very helpful and enjoyable for the students.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been doing this program for several years and have really enjoyed it. I like getting in touch with students from different parts of the country on a personal level. I also enjoy their choice of books and have learned a lot myself. The program is designed well and is user friendly. It is nice being able to get in touch with the teacher by email too. I will continue to participate in this program and see its value in helping students development their reading and writing skills in a unique and fun way.