‘Be the Change’ Continues to Recruit Volunteer Tutors for Cincinnati Public Schools

Multi-partner effort builds on last year’s success in recruiting hundreds of volunteer reading and math tutors for students in high-need elementary schools throughout the CPS district

CINCINNATI -- (Jan. 4, 2012) -- The Strive Partnership, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), and others are teaming up for the second straight year to recruit reading and math tutors through the “Be the Change” tutor recruitment campaign.

The effort will build on last year’s success in recruiting hundreds of volunteer reading and math tutors for students in high-need elementary schools throughout the CPS district.

In addition to last year’s success, Be the Change has placed more than 100 tutors in schools throughout CPS this year.  This includes 52 tutors from KnowledgeWorks Foundation, 3CDC, and Taft, Stettinius & Hollister law firm who volunteer at Rothenberg Academy in Over-the-Rhine and five from Michelman, Inc. who tutor at Silverton Paideia School.

Be the Change will officially launch its tutor recruitment efforts for the 2011-12 school year with a volunteer celebration and recruitment event at 11a.m. on Thursday, January 12.  The event will be held in the gym at Rothenberg Academy, 2120 Vine Street.  The event is open to the public, and anyone interested is welcome to attend.

“We wanted to maintain a campaign to bring the adults in our city into the academic lives of our students,” said CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan.  “The impact of one-on-one tutoring is just phenomenal.”

"United Way is pleased to be a partner in this important effort that will further enhance student success. Be the Change is one way we can work every day to create a better life for all by focusing on education as one of the critical building blocks for that better life.  Tutors make a huge difference in students’ lives," said Robert C. Reifsnyder, President, United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

“We know that when a student establishes a relationship with a tutor in key areas such as reading and math, the likelihood of that student performing better increases dramatically,” said KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Brian Ross. “I’m encouraged by the willingness of the KnowledgeWorks staff and the staffs of our partners to give their time to positively impact learning for Rothenberg and other CPS students.”

In April 2011, Education Week Reporter Sarah D. Sparks wrote about a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that showed a student who cannot read on grade level by the 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.  When poverty is considered a factor, a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.

A recent evaluation of community learning centers (CLCs) in Cincinnati conducted by Innovations in Community Research provides evidence that one-on-one tutoring has a substantial impact on a student’s academic success.  Students who received tutoring in CLCs made gains on their Ohio Reading and Math assessments that were 2.5 to 3 times greater than students who did not.  The study, reported in the Nov. 18 Enquirer by Education Reporter Jessica Brown, found that tutoring provides the “most significant impact of any service the CLCs offer.”

Be the Change provides a collaborative, whole-community response to the need for tutors, recruiting individual and corporate volunteers to spend one hour a week giving a student one-on-one tutoring attention.  The campaign goal is to recruit a tutor for every student who needs one, and certainly enough to provide the critical mass needed to accelerate progress on reading and math achievement throughout the district.

Be the Change is part of a larger effort to increase the momentum that has earned CPS the distinction of being the highest-rated urban school district in Ohio.

According to data from the Ohio Department of Education, fourth-grade test scores in reading and math improved over the previous year by 7.5 and 5.3 percentage points, respectively, in 2010-11.  At some schools, tutoring programs that help students master critical concepts make a difference.  Still, the number of students in need remains high.

Taft Partner Jeff Schloemer said the law firm is committed to helping students where the need is great. “With only 71 percent of fourth graders who are proficient in reading and 61 percent in math, we believe it is important for the community to step forward and take responsibility for our children’s educational progress,” Schloemer said. “One-on-one tutoring affords us all the opportunity to make a meaningful difference right now.”

Stephen Leeper, President and CEO of 3CDC, agrees. “Investing in the lives of kids goes hand-in-hand with investing in the city’s infrastructure,” Leeper said. “We won’t be able to sustain the progress we are making in Over-the-Rhine and other areas of the city unless we make sure we establish a secure academic future for our kids.”

Teachers and principals are customizing lessons to target individual student needs and monitoring progress throughout the year.  Partnering organizations
dedicate staff to help volunteers plan their involvement, complete their application process, and manage ongoing logistics. Tutors and students both have opportunities to provide weekly feedback on the student’s progress, ensuring that all parties involved benefit from the process.

Interested volunteers should contact BeTheChange@StriveTogether.orgor call 513-929-1343.  Volunteers can also contact William Thomas at The Strive Partnership, thomasw@strivetogether.org, or call 513-239-0493.

An online application form is available at: http://www.strivetogether.org/be-the-change/