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AARP Experience Corps Tackling Literacy in Twin Cities

AARP recently joined forces with Experience Corps, one of the nation’s most highly regarded service programs, which engages older adult volunteers to help improve K-3 literacy in underserved schools.

The new relationship supports the priorities of both organizations: AARP Experience Corps will be able to increase its ability to tap into the experience and dedication of older Americans who want to give back to their communities, and it will offer AARP members a new way to engage in one of their top service priorities – volunteering to tutor or mentor youth.

Minnesota is one of 26 states with existing Experience Corps programs. Volunteers have been working with students in 12 schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul and the hope is that this new partnership will enable AARP Experience Corps to reach even more schools in the years to come.

“Experience Corps has built an incredibly successful model, where kids and older adults thrive in a dynamic intergenerational exchange. It fits very naturally into the AARP family, by building upon the principles of service that our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, set out for the organization,” said Barb Quaintance, senior vice president for volunteer and civic engagement at AARP. “

Improving literacy is a major challenge in U.S. schools. Almost 70 percent of our nation’s children reach the 4th grade unable to read at a proficient level.

Experience Corps has a proven track record of improving literacy among American youth: according to research from Washington University in St. Louis, students working with Experience Corps tutors gain more than a 60 percent boost in two critical literacy skills – sounding out new words and reading comprehension – over similar students not being served by Experience Corps.

Additionally, 84 percent of its volunteers reported the participation has changed their lives for the better – including increased motivation, knowledge, confidence and skills. Currently, 2,000 Experience Corps volunteers serve 20,000 K-3 students in disadvantaged schools across the country.

“AARP Minnesota is extremely excited about this partnership, because these are the type of opportunities our members are looking for,” said Minnesota State Director Michele Kimball. “It allows us to be deeply involved at the community level, it gives our members a rewarding volunteer experience and it makes a real difference to the children we are able to reach.”

Volunteer recruitment typically runs from late spring until early fall so opportunities for the 2011-2012 school year have currently been filled.

Find more information on the program and future volunteer opportunities online.

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