As of 2019, 44% of third-grade students in Pinellas County are reading below grade level according to the Florida State Assessment (FSA). Unfortunately, students struggling to read in third grade rarely catch up - one in six students who are not proficient by that point fail to graduate high school on time, a rate four times higher than stronger readers.
YMCA READS provides Kindergarten through third-grade students with the intensive reading instruction they need to succeed. Students are referred by teachers to work with YMCA staff and mentors in small groups during two one-hour individualized sessions per week.
Volunteer mentors and tutors will work in a small-group environment and will be given continuous support from a full-time program coordinator.
WHO can volunteer? Anyone 16 years or older! No prior teaching or tutoring experience is necessary, just a passion to help children and give back to the St. Petersburg community. Training, materials, and ongoing support will be provided for all tutors!
WHEN can I volunteer? As little as two hours per week will make a huge difference in a child’s life. Choose sessions that work best for you! Our program operates after school from Monday through Thursday.
WHERE do I volunteer? Perkins Elementary (2205 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712) Jamerson Elementary (1200 37th St S, St. Petersburg, FL 33711) Sawgrass Lake Elementary (1815 77th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33702)
WHY should I volunteer? You are giving a child the keys to a brighter future! Reading is essential for a child's future success. Students not reading on grade level by 3rd-grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school or fail to graduate on time than their more proficient peers. By taking measures of early intervention, you are helping a child to succeed in school and life!
WHAT do other volunteers say?
"This is my second year of volunteering...[and I] will most likely be back next year. Last year, we had a boy that could barely read at the beginning of the year, and by the end of the year, he was reading one to two grades above level. It was amazing. His self-esteem improved, helping him was very gratifying.
I like to spend a few minutes at the end of each session, just talking with the students and letting them draw me a picture. A picture is worth a thousand words. Do you know, in almost every picture, one of my students will always draw me and her doing an activity, today she drew a picture of both of us on the swings. She always tells me, this is me, and this is you. It’s very rewarding knowing you're making a difference, there’s so much potential."