In Washington D.C. public schools, 85 percent of kids under the age of 19 perform below expected reading levels. It’s a tragic number, but as one D.C.-based nonprofit is proving, it’s also an untapped resource. Reach Incorporated is flipping traditional tutoring methods by hiring academically struggling teenagers to teach elementary school students how to read. It’s a one-two punch that gets older kids to practice reading, while allowing the younger kids to benefit from a one-on-one relationship, said Reach Inc. founder Mark Hecker in the short video above.
Getting these teens to feel like they matter to someone else is an important motivating factor. Take the example of Reach tutor Rashaan and his student, Leonard. “When I was young, I was all types of bad. I guess I felt that I was headed down a wrong path and I feel that I don’t want Leonard to go down a wrong path,” Rashaan says. He added that being a tutor has turned his whole life around: “My grades are looking much better now. Before they were looking like C’s, D’s, and F’s. Now they’re looking like all A’s and B’s.”
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Reach, founded in 2010, is currently working with 75 tutors and 75 students in three different schools in D.C., Good reports. The nonprofit is also having teens write and publish their own children’s books. Now that’s a success story.