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How You Can Help San Diego’s Youth Survive and Thrive

United Way of San Diego County is recruiting 10,000 volunteer readers, tutors and mentors to give their time and energy to positively impact local children’s education by 2014.

United Way of San Diego County is on a mission. And we need your help to achieve it. We’re recruiting 10,000 volunteer readers, tutors and mentors to give their time and energy to positively impact local children’s education by 2014. Since June, our campaign has already generated nearly 2,200 pledges from caring San Diegans. 

This local recruitment challenge is part of a larger national United Way effort to recruit one million volunteers—including young adults, retirees, members of the faith community and business leaders—to help the nation’s children progress, succeed and thrive through reading, tutoring and mentoring assistance. 

United Way hopes to demonstrate that when caring adults work with kids—from the early years through high school—they can help boost academic achievement, increase classroom engagement and contribute to benefits that will ripple out to the community as a whole. 

From reading to groups of children to tutoring a child one-on-one, volunteers not only impact a child’s personal growth and development but also encourage them to become lifelong learners.

With only 20 percent of a students’ time spent in school, out-of-school time is an integral part of a child’s education. 

For example, tutoring provides an excellent outlet for volunteers to capitalize on their professional expertise related to a child’s studies. One survey showed strong reading skill improvements for low-achieving second and third grade children, who were tutored after school for one hour, twice per week. Half of the tutored children made a one-year gain in reading, while only 20 percent of the control group children did. 

Tutors on Mission, one of student-run, service-based organizations, recruits and trains student volunteers to tutor and mentor local youth. Most importantly, the college volunteers offer emotional support and a positive presence, inspiring their mentees toward better life choices. A balanced tutor-to-student ratio helps the volunteers bond with the students and gauge their progress. 

“Even though it's early in the morning, it's why I keep going back,” explains one student volunteer, who tutors in Southeast San Diego. “It’s overwhelming when you see their demeanor change, once they understand what you’re trying to explain. It's such a sense of accomplishment—for yourself and the one you’re helping. This is worth so much more than my time spent sleeping in." 

Become a Volunteer

There are more than 100 different volunteer opportunities to choose from around the county. Current United Way partners in need of volunteers include Rolling Readers; Big Brothers Big Sisters; and Chula Vista Serves, as well as the San Diego County Office of Education’s Foster Youth and Homeless Education Services. 

To sign up, visit uwsd.org and click on the “Volunteer” banner.

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