AARP Foundation Searches for Experience Corps

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Eighty percent of CPS students are behind in reading by the end of third grade as of 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “This is a tragic reality. I am on a mission to turn this around for our Chicago children at CPS.” says Myrna Torres, executive director of the Chicago Branch, Experience Corps, a program of the AARP Foundation.

Experience Corps is an intergenerational, research-based literacy intervention model for students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. The program is in 23 cities throughout the nation. Chicago became the 20th city when it opened its offices in February 2013. Experience Corps served 14 schools, 89 classrooms and 974 students in the 2013-2014 school year. Of those students, 43 percent advanced 12 months or more in reading levels and 87 percent made progress overall, thanks to the 130 volunteer tutors.

The program will serve 18 schools in 2015-2016 school year and will need 220 volunteers to serve as tutors. Volunteers are 50+ years old and retirees, who are trained extensively by Experience Corps and are then placed in the classrooms to tutor small groups of three children during the two hour reading block in the mornings. Volunteers make a commitment to tutor students from October through mid-May for 2.5 hours twice a week.

The Experience Corps volunteers come from all walks of life. Volunteers have worked in manufacturing, sales, law enforcement, accounting, medical, education, etc. “Our volunteers are the secret to our success for they are very nurturing and create an amazing bond with their students”, added Myrna Torres. The training for volunteers prepares them to walk into the classrooms and begin working with students. The volunteer tutors also develop a partnership with their classroom teachers, facilitated by the school principal and Experience Corps.

Experience Corps hosts Volunteer Information Sessions across the city for people who are interested in learning more. You can visit their website at or call 312-660-8655 for dates and locations.

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