Learning Leaders, formally the New York City School Volunteer Program, is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that is dedicated to engaging families and communities to support student success. Founded in 1956, the organization runs many family and community engagement programs in order to help New York City’s public school students. Their mission is to “help New York City public school students succeed by training volunteers to provide individualized instructional support and other school-based support, and by empowering parents to foster their children’s education development” (learningleaders.org).
Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, Learning Leaders had over 4,000 volunteers working with 180,000 students through partnerships with 250 elementary and middle schools in every district across New York City’s five boroughs. Additionally, over 4,000 parents participated in Learning Leaders’ family education workshops to increase their knowledge and skills when it comes to support their children’s education.
The organization includes everyone, from family members to community members and, of course, students. Seventy percent of all Learning Leaders volunteers are African American or Latino and half speak a language other than English at home.
Learning Leaders has many programs but divides its school volunteer programs into two main models: the Core Program and Literary Programs. Within the Core Program volunteers are trained to provide one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing, ESL, math and other academic subjects to students at the elementary and middle school levels. The Literary Programs work to supplement students education beyond the basic academic support that they get in school and at home. BookTalk and Book Buddies are the two Literary Programs. BookTalk helps students develop a lifelong long of literature and discussion. Book Buddies pairs volunteers with elementary student pen-pals.
While a big part of the Learning Leaders programs is to help students, one of the ways they accomplish this is by helping these students’ parents. “Learning Leaders empower parents to support their children’s education experience by increasing their knowledge, skills and confidence” (learningleaders.org). The organization conducts workshops, with offerings in English, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian-Creole and Spanish, on different topics to parents.
If you would like to donate your time or money to Learning Leaders check them out on their website.