AARP Foundation Experience Corps Improving Literacy

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

It’s often said that children learn to read so that they can then read in order to learn. If a child does not have good reading skills by third grade, the chances of success are significantly impacted. That’s where AARP Foundation Experience Corps comes in. Experience Corps is an intergenerational tutoring program that is proven to help children who aren’t reading at grade level become great readers by the end of third grade. We inspire and empower adults 50 and older to serve in their community and disrupt the cycle of poverty by making a lasting difference in the lives of America’s most vulnerable children. Experience Corps volunteers give K-3 students the support they deserve to succeed in school and in life. Children who are not able to read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. Some 3,000 Experience Corps volunteers in 26 cities work in schools in underserved districts that need support in helping students achieve mandated reading requirements. We connect students with caring adult volunteers 50 and older whose training, life experience and commitment are the essential ingredients that ensure these children are able to read at grade level and have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Our data-driven solutions provide meaningful and measurable benefits for children struggling to read, as well as for volunteers 50 and older. By helping young students become great readers, Experience Corps contributes to a “triple win” in which children, schools and volunteers realize enduring benefits. External research proves our effectiveness in improving literacy: students who worked one-to-one with Experience Corps tutors for a single school year saw more than 60 percent greater gains in critical literacy skills compared to students who were not served by the program. Children and volunteers build a close, trusted relationship that helps not improve reading skills, but also builds essential social and emotional skills. In yearly surveys, teachers report that in addition to significant gains in reading skills, their students have increased confidence, better attendance and fewer disciplinary problems. Volunteers benefit from training and ongoing support that strengthens their natural mentoring abilities, builds their confidence and fosters a sense of purpose that helps ensure their success as tutors – and the success of the children as readers. Research also demonstrates that volunteer service helps keep older Americans mentally and physically healthier, and more socially engaged.

Here in Chicago, Experience Corps is in fourteen schools, serving almost 800 children. But the need is far greater. We plan to serve many more children. If you would like to learn how to bring Experience Corps to your community or if you would like to volunteer to be a volunteer tutor, please contact AARP Foundation Experience Corps: Simone McCrary at (312) 660-8656 or email at us at

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