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Indianapolis nonprofit seeks volunteers to assist with 'ReadUP' program

Nearly one in every five Hoosier third graders are lagging when it comes to reading proficiency, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

INDIANAPOLIS — If story time was your favorite growing up, the United Way of Central Indiana wants you to consider giving back to students in your neighborhood by reading. 

The nonprofit is recruiting volunteers for its ReadUP program, which helps third graders get on track with reading and comprehension.

Nearly one in every five Hoosier third graders are not reading at the level they should. That's according to a recent report from the Indiana Department of Education. 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused early childhood literacy to slide, widening the gap for students already reading below grade level.

Among third graders who were once 12 to 18 months behind in their reading abilities, some are now 24 months behind, said Taylor Rhodes, education initiatives manager for United Way of Central Indiana.  

Volunteers usually spend an hour a week helping students as they read aloud to each other, focusing on vocabulary and making sure students understand what they are reading. 

RELATED: 1 in 5 Hoosier 3rd grade students cannot read proficiently, according to test results

Typically, ReadUP needs about 500 volunteers. So far this academic year, only about half of that have signed up.  

The need for volunteers is especially great in Marion and Morgan counties, but the program serves 24 elementary schools in six counties. 

Volunteers must pass a background check and complete a one-hour virtual training session. They'll spend one hour a week in a school reading with two students. If you can’t make the time commitment, you can partner with another volunteer and participate every other week.  

To learn more or to sign up, click here.

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