The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation awarded Read With Me Volunteer Programs (RWM) a $25,000 grant to purchase books and support the organization’s local English literacy tutoring programs. The Coachella Valley Spotlight grant will contribute to the approximate 35,500 books that are given to about 10,000 Coachella Valley students annually.
“Read With Me Volunteer Programs sees first-hand how actually ‘owning’ a book and taking it home and sharing it with family and friends not only accelerates children’s learning to read but also fosters a life-long love of reading,” said Roberta Klein, Volunteer Executive Director of RWM.
Klein co-founded the nonprofit organization with her husband 18 years ago, and since that time the volunteer-centric program has grown year over year. Currently, RWM serves 16 local schools, primarily in the east valley, with about 350 volunteer tutors working with more than 3000 elementary-aged children. Even during virtual learning, volunteers were able to provide about 8,000 hours of tutoring, and this school year, volunteers have logged more than 10,000 so far. The organization is seeking more volunteers for next school year and working to get its numbers back to what they were before the pandemic, which were approximately 750 tutors for 4200 children and 24,000 tutoring hours.
“Read With Me is a successful intergenerational program that bonds two distinct groups of people – identified socio-economically disadvantaged children and retired adults,” said Catharine Reed, Vice President of Charitable Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “This combination is powerful. It provides the adults with a meaningful way to contribute to future generations, and it is clearly positively impacting our local communities.”
In 2004, before RWM entered valley schools, 51-percent of Coachella Valley students graduated from high school. Today, the graduation rate throughout the valley is higher than 86-percent. Research shows that students are more likely to graduate high school if they are at standard reading level reading by 3rd grade. Volunteers receive training through the RWM program, and then work under teacher guidance with designated students and assigned materials.
“Many parents want to help their children with school work, however, if the at-home English skills are limited, they can only help so much. The Read With Me volunteers are filling an important gap,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2.
Through the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and News Channel 3, RWM was featured on News Channel 3 programming, in public service announcements and on kesq.com throughout April. For information visit www.readwithmevolunteers.com or call 760-567-1830.