Read to Succeed Buffalo (RTSB) announced today that the organization has been awarded a three-year grant from the Cullen Foundation funding RTSB’s Experience Corps program. The Cullen Foundation’s support will ensure that nearly 700 Buffalo students have access to high impact tutoring through 200 trained Experience Corps Literacy tutor/mentors by 2026.

RTSB’s Experience Corps Program is an intergenerational, evidence-based tutoring/mentoring program of the AARP Foundation harnessing the social capital of older adults ages 50+ by training and deploying them to tutor/mentor PreK - 3rd-grade students who are below grade level in reading utilizing an evidence-based structured session model.

The Experience Corps Buffalo 30-minute structured tutoring session is focused on building vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension skills in 1st-3rd Grade students through repetition and 1:1 practice and phonological and phonemic awareness and alphabetic principle and phonics in Pre-K and K students through 1:1 practice using literacy games and models of fluent reading.

In the 2022-23 school year 64 Experience Corps Buffalo volunteers provided nearly 4,000 hours of 1:1 tutor/mentoring to 206 students. The program’s current capacity features 87 tutor/mentors serving nearly 300 students at 10 Buffalo schools. RTSB aims to recruit an additional 60 volunteer tutor/mentors for the 2024-2025 school year.

“The Cullen Foundation recognizes the critical supports that high impact tutoring provides economically disadvantaged, underperforming students who were unduly impacted by COVID school closings and remote instruction,” said Anne Ryan, Executive Director. “RTSB’s trained and well supported tutor/mentors administer a 1:1 literacy tutoring model, two times per week that demonstrably helps close the low-income achievement gap among these students.  Experience Corps, along with the continuum of RTSB literacy coaching programs in child care and Head Start, has created an environment dedicated to quality, interactive, and intentional literacy instruction,” she continued.

The Cullen Foundation is an independent, private foundation that is dedicated to the enhancement of educational tools for residents of Erie County. The organization has partnered with Read to Succeed previously, including the launch of a pilot Intensive Tutoring Corps program this year. Intensive Tutoring Corps is designed to provide higher intensity support to well below grade level students.

“Our dedicated volunteers undergo rigorous training, and are continuously supported by dual certified literacy coaches on site at the schools in which they are working; yielding data-driven results that demonstrate significant reading proficiency gains for students enrolled in Experience Corps,” concluded Ryan.