Volunteers study books appropriate for the Reading Seed program during a training session.

Arizona Daily Star 2013

Literacy Connects needs more volunteers for its education programs this fall, including its children’s literacy program Reading Seed.

The Tucson nonprofit, which offers learning services for adults and children, recruited 500 new reading coaches for Reading Seed last year. With 750 total coaches, the program helped 1,700 children in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading skills.

But sign-up for the upcoming school year has been slow. The program still needs about 300 new coaches, especially for the Sunnyside and Tucson Unified school districts.

Literacy Connects aims to reduce unemployment and poverty rates in Tucson by focusing on literacy skills.

“Literacy is the building block of every success in life,” says Betty Stauffer, executive director. Without it, “you can’t fill out a job application, you can’t read the permission slips your kids bring home from school. You can’t read your mail. It’s so fundamental.”

Other Literacy Connects projects seeking volunteers:

  • Infusion Project needs 30 volunteers for Family Education Nights, held one night a month throughout the school year at Mission Manor and Los Niños elementary schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District. The sessions help children and their parents improve their reading and writing skills.
  • Volunteer tutors are needed to help adults prepare for GED class and job-training programs. Tutors are needed in reading, writing, math and English. The next orientation is July 19 at Literacy Connects, at 2850 E. Speedway.
  • Volunteers are also needed to clean used books to be provided free to children.

Just a little volunteer time can make a big difference for a child or for an adult looking to improve their circumstances, Stauffer said.

Though the programs can’t solve all the problems facing the education system, “for the people you work with, it will certainly impact their lives,” she said.

Contact reporter Emily Bregel at ebregel@azstarnet.com or 807-7774. On Twitter: @EmilyBregel