New grant funding announced Friday will help a Coachella Valley nonprofit continue providing students in the eastern valley with free English language tutoring remotely.
Read With Me received a $30,000 grant from the Palm Desert-based Auen Foundation, which the nonprofit plans to use to continue training volunteers to assist with remote tutoring as local public schools remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The schools we work in have a high incidence of children living in homes where English is not spoken,” said Roberta Klein, founder of Read With Me. “These children have lost a great deal of academic progress since last March and need additional tutoring more than ever.”
For more than a decade, the nonprofit has transported trained volunteers to schools in the eastern Coachella Valley to assist students with reading, writing and speaking English. But with the pandemic, the organization was forced to go virtual.
Organizers said they worked with the Coachella Valley Unified School District to develop a virtual tutoring program, which taught prospective tutors how to use Zoom video conferencing software and other relevant new skills for the technological tasks at hand.
Before the pandemic, Read With Me had a stable of about 750 volunteers. That number, which included many snowbirds, has since dropped significantly,
In the months since, the organization has trained more than 100 volunteers for remote tutoring, some from as far away as Canada. But organizers contend another 100 volunteers are needed. The grant funding is aimed at assisting with that effort.
Some volunteers credit Read With Me with not only helping local students, but with helping the volunteers themselves reconnect with other people amid stay-at-home orders brought on by the pandemic.
“I feel so good after a tutoring session knowing I am helping kids with something as important as reading,” said Jay Kane, a Read With Me volunteer tutor since 2013.
“For many months at the start of the pandemic I had very little contact with others, and started to feel somewhat isolated. Now, I feel connected and like I’m doing something impactful.”
Prospective tutors were urged to email email@example.com or call 760-567-1830. All volunteers must pass a background check.
More information about the program can be found at www.readwithmevolunteers.com.