Volunteers Needed to Tutor St. Paul Students

January 10, 2018 05:41 PM

A nonprofit which works to promote literacy said there is an urgent need for volunteers to help young students learn to read in St. Paul.

The East Side Learning Center maintains five locations inside St. Paul schools. And the group says on any given day, 280 students will get assistance.


But due to budgets cuts, winter illness, senior volunteers heading south and college students not in class at the moment, there's currently a significant shortage of tutors.

"Every week, we have more than 1,100 slots to fill for students," East Side Learning Center executive director Chris Flippo said.

Education experts said children who do not read at grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school.

Volunteer Mary Hill spends her Wednesday tutoring elementary students in literacy. And the former educator knows the importance of reading.

"Reading is so fundamental," she said. "If they can have one-on-one time and get their reading proficiency down, it may make a difference in their lives."

Flippo said the students the group serves are in great need.

"A lot of these students are at risk because they don't speak English," Flippo said. "They are new immigrants or refugees. They live in poverty. Some of our students are homeless."

Lessons are pre-planned for students. All volunteers need to do is share their time and patience.

"This is about change," Flippo said. "You can change a child, and you can change a community, if you focus on the children." 

The East Side Learning Center gets funding from the United Way, but those funds were cut by $200,000 last year. And Flippo said if they can't recruit more volunteers, they'll be forced to cut support to students.

Volunteers do need to fill out an application and undergo a background check.



Jessica Miles

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