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USF Celebrates 15th Anniversary With America Reads


(File photo)

The University of San Francisco is marking 15 years of tutoring in San Francisco schools as part of America Reads, a program that USF students have taken part in since its founding.

America Reads, created in 1998 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, recruits college students across the nation to tutor elementary school students in literacy. Hundreds of USFers have participated in the program, tutoring thousands of San Francisco children in kindergarten through third grade in local schools and in afterschool programs throughout the city, from the Richmond district to the Tenderloin. America Reads tutors make about $11 an hour, paid for by the Federal Work-Study Program. Tutors complete a one-credit college course, learning various teaching strategies and how to respond to students’ needs as a mentor. 

Sean Tracy ’12 first joined the program his freshman year because he needed a job, but the personal connections he made kept him involved. “It wasn’t long before I wasn’t just a tutor anymore. The kids began to look up to me in the classroom; would listen and do what I said,” said Tracy, who graduated in May with a marketing degree.  

Elementary school students who take part in America Reads show strong improvement in reading, and their teachers say again and again how much they appreciate the program and the work USFers are doing, said Kimberly Harris, supervisor of USF’s America Reads program and assistant coordinator of the Learning Center.

On top of improving kids’ reading, one-on-one tutoring bolsters kids’ overall self-confidence—bringing them out of their shells in the classroom, said Kelly Mills ’12, an international studies graduate who started working with second graders at Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary and Preschool, part of the San Francisco Unified School District, during her freshman year.

Because USF students tend to be drawn to community involvement, it’s no surprise that America Reads has proved popular at the university—with 50-60 students taking part each semester, Harris said.

“America Reads really empowers USF students to take on this leadership/mentor role, providing them with an opportunity to become involved and give back,” Harris said.

Written by Andrea Powell »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews