United Way Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters

United Way of Allen County logo

News release from the United Way of Allen County:

United Way Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters
Partnership will Advance Learn United’s Literacy Goals

(August 25, 2011) – United Way of Allen County is excited to announce its new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana to advance the literacy goals that are part of the Learn United education initiative. Beginning August 1, Big Brothers Big Sisters began handling the volunteer management of two popular Learn United programs, Real Men Read and Classroom Buddies.

Real Men Read will be operated in the same manner, with one volunteer reading to a second or third grade classroom in East Allen County or Fort Wayne Community schools at set times monthly beginning in October. Current Real Men Read volunteers are being contacted to determine their interest for the 2011-12 school year; after August, if there are available openings, they will be offered to the public.

Classroom Buddies will be combined with Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Lunch Buddies program to create School Buddies: Bigs in Schools, which will operate in Allen County. Current Classroom Buddies will be asked to volunteer one-on-one with a child who has been chosen by school personnel. The identified students will benefit from literacy skill building, as well as building a relationship with an adult who cares about them. The volunteer will meet with the child over the lunch and recess period, where they will read with them and then eat or sit with them during lunch and continue the mentoring portion while integrating social learning and literacy.

“Research shows that the greatest success can be achieved when mentoring and tutoring are combined,” said Todd Stephenson, president and CEO of United Way. “By combining mentoring and literacy help, our volunteers will have a greater impact on local children who need to improve their reading skills.”

Real Men Read will operate in all East Allen County and Fort Wayne Community elementary schools. School Buddies: Bigs in Schools will operate in approximately 28 schools in all four Allen County public school districts. School officials have expressed support for the new School Buddies: Bigs in Schools format because it will not pull students away from any classroom instruction time.

“With the efforts of caring and compassionate volunteers, many children receive support in ways we can’t imagine: educationally, socially, and emotionally,” said Dr. Karyle Green, EACS superintendent. “We certainly appreciate our community volunteers as they work in our schools to help inspire in our students a passion for learning, reading and excelling in education.”

“Having strong partnerships with organizations and businesses in the community is critical to our success as a school system and as a city,” said Dr. Wendy Robinson, FWCS superintendent. “Students need positive role models not only to encourage their learning, but also to set high expectations and to dream big. We need volunteers in our schools engaging our students and showing them the opportunities that are available.”

“We are excited to work with United Way and combine the Classroom Buddies and Lunch Buddies efforts,” said Josette Rider, CEO/executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We believe our partnership is a great opportunity to enhance the integration of academics into our mentoring model while also allowing us to make our programs more efficient and expand their capacity so we can serve more local children.”

Anyone with questions or wanting to volunteer to help local elementary children improve their literacy skills should call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 260.456.1600.


Webmaster’s note: The phone number for volunteers to call is: 456-1600.


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