The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium is launching a $22,000 fundraising campaign to purchase books for its virtual literacy tutoring program this school year. Kicking off the fundraiser was a welcomed $1,000 donation from Burke and Herbert Bank in Alexandria.
Alexandria Tutoring Consortium, as a partner with the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), uses a curriculum from the University of Virginia to train volunteers to tutor kindergarten and first grade students in most of the city’s elementary schools one-on-one twice a week. Paid staff, who are teaching and education professionals, write lesson plans for each tutoring session, monitor the student’s success and challenges, train volunteer tutors, and collect data to monitor and gauge progress. The organization, now in its 24th year, was tutoring 128 students in its “Book Buddies” curriculum last March, when ACPS closed schools due to the coronavirus. By late April, ATC staff had shifted the personalized literacy tutoring program to a virtual program and was able to connect with 102 of those students to continue.
As the school year came to a close, the ATC Board of Directors voted to shift resources to a first-ever summer program to continue serving the children enrolled in its virtual program. More than 100 community volunteers continued from the spring virtual tutoring to the summer program and all students being tutored virtually have demonstrated reading progress.
“This has been a trying time,” said ATC Board Chair Yvonne Folkerts. “Yet despite the challenges, our tutors remained dedicated, the parents supported our virtual needs, our staff stayed true to our mission, and the students have benefitted.”
Early results indicate 84 percent of the kindergarten and first graders continuing in the virtual program from last semester and into this summer will be reading on grade level. With two more weeks yet to tutor this summer, that percentage could increase.
Based on these results, the Alexandria non-profit has decided to continue offering its curriculum virtually throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
ACPS will have a virtual opening for 2020-2021. Anticipating no in-person access to students this fall, ATC has decided to continue virtually tutoring struggling readers. A key change in ATC’s curriculum being delivered virtually was to provide books to each student being tutored. Before the coronavirus, books were provided by ACPS and kept in the classroom. Tutors used the books as directed by the lesson plans.
“Our staff has decided leveled readers are the best choice for a virtual program and therefore, we intend to find the resources to provide this literacy tool for these young readers,” Folkerts said.
ATC estimates purchasing leveled readers for an anticipated 150 students in its program next school year will cost $22,000. The organization has launched a fundraiser on its social media platforms and is reaching out to donors to secure the needed funds.
ATC hopes to have the books in hand by October, when the organization traditionally launches its tutoring curriculum.
To donate, go to the organization’s website at https://alexandriatutors.org/ and click the “donate now” button. Donors may also send a check to The Alexandria Tutoring Consortium, attn. Executive Director Lisa Jacobs, 323 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.