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Schools of Hope AmeriCorps Project

Contact Information

2059 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704

(608) 441-1507

Focus Areas

  • Education & Youth

The Schools of Hope AmeriCorps (SOH) Project is a dynamic community partnership which has
developed an evidence-based model of tutoring intervention fueled by impassioned AmeriCorps
members and committed community volunteers. Its mission is to work with school staff to provide
literacy tutoring support aimed at improving the academic achievement of low-performing kindergarten
through fifth grade students from a range of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and low-income
families. The program serves elementary school students in Madison and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
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  • About Us
    Led by a team of AmeriCorps members based in elementary schools, volunteer tutors are matched
    with children in need of additional help with reading. AmeriCorps members are responsible for the
    recruitment, screening, placement, orientation, training, support, evaluation and recognition of a
    diverse pool of community volunteers in addition to being literacy tutors themselves. The Project
    works closely with school staff to deliver high-quality academic support.

    There are several components to the Schools of Hope AmeriCorps Project:
    • Trained one-on-one to one-on-three volunteer literacy tutors for elementary students identified by teaching staff
    • Ongoing tutor training provided by school district professionals
    • Tutoring sessions guided by materials provided by the classroom teacher
    • Books of Hope (BOH) containing books, supplies and activities for students to keep at home, including bilingual books and activities
    • Support for school-based family literacy programs
  • Our Impact
    The Schools of Hope AmeriCorps Project was evaluated in 2012 by Dr. Annalee Good, a national
    researcher who studies academic tutoring programs. Her findings include the following:

    1. Elementary SOH has a positive impact on student academic achievement in literacy as
    measured and triangulated using Text Reading Level (longitudinal), grade reports and teacher
    surveys. Tutored students showed greater gains in reading than a comparison group of non-tutored
    peers who were matched based on gender, race/ethnicity, English language proficiency and income.
    2. Elementary SOH is aligned to the existing research base on effective elementary volunteer
    tutoring programs and to the Madison district’s literacy curriculum.
    3. Stakeholders (school staff, volunteers and AmeriCorps members) feel they experience a high
    quality program.

    Some of the Project’s strongest evidence of success comes from the hundreds of classroom teachers
    who consistently credit school-based volunteer tutors with increasing students' academic skills as well
    as their enthusiasm for learning. Highlights of the 2015-2016 survey results are:

    Schools of Hope Annual Teacher and Staff Survey Results:
    95% reported that volunteers contributed to an increase in students’ reading ability
    96% reported a positive change in students' attitudes during time with volunteer
    91% reported a positive change in students' behaviors during time with volunteer

    Schools of Hope Annual Tutor Survey Results:
    95% felt they contributed to students' improvement in reading ability
    94% felt they contributed to students' improvement in attitude about reading
    95% felt they had an increased understanding of student and school needs

    The Project has demonstrated multiple successful elements:
    1. There is a high degree of alignment between its mission and the primary goals of the
    participating school districts regarding students’ academic achievement.
    2. The Project enjoys broad-based community support in terms of leadership from United Way,
    buy-in from non-profit and business partners, and actively engaged community volunteers.
    3. Through extensive training and individualized support, the Project annually nurtures a cohort
    of largely young and highly-capable team members without significant backgrounds as
    educators and ensures their success in educational settings.
    4. For more than a decade, the Project has served as a springboard for individuals who go on to
    future careers in education and public service. Its alumni ranks include numerous classroom
    teachers, directors and staff of non-profit agencies, members of government service and a
    cadre of committed, life-long volunteers.

    This program has been recognized nationally as a leader in school-community tutoring initiatives and
    AmeriCorps programming. It has been honored at a White House event, used as a case study in the
    White House Call to Service, featured in the 2009 congressional budget justification, and published in
    a book of the 52 “most innovative” AmeriCorps programs in the country.