Spotlight Encore Cleveland: Greater Cleveland Volunteers

A woman sits with a young student as they read a book together

Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps to connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders meaningful opportunities in the community upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers.

In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes. Learn about the AARP Experience Corps in this guest blog post from Greater Cleveland Volunteers: 

“You see a child in need and it becomes a part of you; you see this and you go into action.”

Esther Kinds starts her stories the same way when she is asked why she volunteers as an AARP Foundation Experience Corps literacy tutor.

After Esther retired from operating a tutoring program in East Cleveland, she knew there was still a need and wanted to continue to make an impact.

“I was talking to people at the Cleveland AARP office and they mentioned the tutoring opportunities in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District,” Esther relays. She researched the information and called Greater Cleveland Volunteers to ask how she could become involved. She enrolled as a volunteer 12 years ago and continues to embrace and enjoy each day with the students.

AARP Foundation Experience Corps is a national program that engages adults ages 50+ as literacy tutors to K-3rd grade students. Greater Cleveland Volunteers manages this program in the Cleveland Metropolitan and Euclid City School Districts.

“Students are referred to the program by a classroom teacher. After the training, coaching and materials are furnished to the volunteer, they then begin the tutoring process,” Ross Jones, Program Manager explains.

The tutor spends between four to six hours a week with students one-on-one under the guidance of the classroom teacher, using a tutoring toolkit and resources from curriculum.

In the 2016-2017 school year Greater Cleveland Volunteers had 125 tutors working with more than 480 students in both school districts. End of year data showed that 29% of students served reached grade level reading benchmarks by year-end and 61% of the students improved their reading skills.

Although data is important and shapes the training and resources necessary for the literacy tutoring program, it’s evident that the AARP Foundation Experience Corps is a glowing example of Encore opportunities and intergenerational relationships. The tutors are able to share their passion for literacy and helping others. The students receive additional educational support and positive encouragement throughout the year.

If you have questions regarding the AARP Foundation Experience Corps literacy tutoring program contact Ross Jones, Program Manager at 216-391-9500 x 119 or rjones@greaterclevelandvolunteers.org.

To discover other tutoring or mentoring volunteer opportunities with school-age and/or adults in Cuyahoga County call Cecille Harris at 216-391-9500 x 122 or charris@greaterclevelandvolunteers.org

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