My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for In2Books (ePals Foundation), Herndon, VA, USA
In2Books is an online mentoring opportunity that matches adults as pen pals with students. They then work through a series of different books together, while exchanging letters discussing their questions and opinions on the subject matter, as well as developing a friendship. I have participated as an online pen pal with the In2Books program each of the past four school years, and I intend to continue for the foreseeable future. I've been matched with six students thus far. I feel that, implemented appropriately, this program has great potential to positively impact children with regard to reading and writing skills. My student pen pals have always seemed genuinely enthusiastic about exchanging letters. They aren't always very focused on the books we are to be sharing, but they enjoy communicating with someone who takes an interest in what matters to them. The level of responsiveness from the classroom varies. Some of the students' teachers are very involved and take initiative to let the volunteer pen pals know exactly when the class is at each stage of the process. However, this hasn't been common in my experience. I understand that classrooms are extremely busy, and it's not always possible to keep up with the exchange of letters. My critique of the In2Books program would be that it seems to be somewhat unrealistically scheduled. From what I've experienced with six different classes, it is simply not feasible for students to get through the five specified genres within the required timeframe. The most ambitious class I worked with made it through only three full sessions. Generally, things start out fairly well, but after a few months at the most, classrooms fall far behind the In2Books online deadline schedule. Most times, I've stopped receiving letters from my student pen pal before the school year is even half over. In some cases, they continue through the books without sending letters, but usually activity and communication with In2Books seems to cease entirely. I write my letters as soon as possible, and it takes quite a long time to receive a reply, if one ever comes. I would suggest that instead of having a set order of genres to proceed through, perhaps they could allow each classroom to tailor their individual curriculum to better fit their needs and time constraints. A lot of the students really struggle with reading and writing, so it seems like it could become burdensome for them to muddle through while following a particular schedule. Perhaps each class could select three genres each year that interested them. As it is now, most classrooms never reach the final cycles during the course of a school year. All in all, this program is definitely worthwhile, but it does require the volunteer to be patient and flexible. Just remember, you're making a difference, and don't let it get you down if you don't hear back from your student. The teachers that are quite involved have assured me that the students really appreciate the letters they receive.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?