The Catholic Community Services teamed up with Seattle Housing Authority in 1991 to begin a youth tutoring program. Tutoring centers provide a safe environment for children that is both academically stimulating and enriching. The program relies heavily on community members to volunteer their time as tutors. Students are given the opportunity to receive additional academic support on an individual basis. The five Youth Tutoring Program centers are located within five of Seattle’s low-income public housing communities.
Youth Tutoring Program runs two programs over the course of the year. The primary program is the school year program. Volunteers who participate in this program provide additional support for students in the first through twelfth grades. During the school year, volunteers help students with their homework and strengthen reading and math skills. The organization understands that it is difficult to dedicate a set time every day to the program, so the organization requires a minimum of only two hours a week for six months. The flexibility that the program offers its volunteers is to ensure that volunteers keep their commitment to the days and times that the volunteer selects.
The second program that the organization provides to the youth is a Summer Reading Program. The summer program’s primary focus is reading skills. However, they may also incorporate some writing skills such as summarization. The summer program also requires a minimum of two hours per week but only for seven weeks. The summer program only enrolls students in first through sixth grade. The summer program is also split into two separate sessions. The early readers’ program is for students in the first and second grades. The late readers’ consists of students in third through sixth grade.
During the summer, I was a volunteer for the summer reading program at the Rainier Vista Center in south Seattle. The seven weeks truly does go by quickly. The minimum requirement of only two hours per week is easy to meet and the center is truly willing to work with volunteers in coordinating schedules. It is absolutely crucial that volunteers are dedicated to the time commitment they make at the beginning of the program as the children depend on their volunteer to be there. With my early reader, much of our time was focused on basic reading skills (phonetics, vowel sounds, etc.). With my late reader, the focus varied between reading skills (increasing reading levels) and also reading comprehension (summarizing). Though the seven weeks will pass by quickly, the impact that a volunteer can have on a student may be such a strong and positive experience that it remains with them for many years and vice versa.
Please visit the Youth Tutoring Progams’ website for more information if you are interested in becoming a volunteer.
By: Anna L., Founder