Everybody Wins!

Daily Point of Light # 1198 Sep 7, 1998

Everybody Wins!, a non-profit, privately funded program promoting children's literacy and love of learning through shared reading experiences with caring adults started in New York City in 1991. In March 1993, Senator Jeffords and Senator Simon brought the program from New York City to Washington DC. Everybody Wins! has a full-time staff of seven, as well as part-time parent volunteers who coordinate the efforts of Everybody Wins! with the local participating schools. The program expands the possibilities for children's success in school, enhances children's self-esteem, while enabling adult volunteers to become involved within the community and experience the rewards of serving.

One of their regular activities, Power Lunch, pairs a young elementary student with an adult mentor. The mentor is given a child to work with throughout the entire school year. Once a week, the mentor comes to the elementary school during the child's lunch hour, and together the student and mentor read aloud to one another. This hour lunch break provides the child time to develop an ongoing relationship with a caring adult as well as the opportunity to develop a love for reading. This love for learning is essential in Washington DC, where 55% of fourth graders are reading below the lowest tested level, 36% of students who begin seventh grade do not graduate, and 51% of high school graduates are considered to be functionally illiterate. The adults also benefit from the reading sessions. The adults are full-time professionals, including businessmen, senators and lawyers, who are given the opportunity to work with, and serve, the children in the Washington Metropolitan community.

Everybody Wins! also provides parent education workshops once a year. These classes are used to foster the relationships between parents and the adult mentor readers, with the main focus being on the child. Parents are encouraged to become actively engaged in reading with their children in the home, and are also invited to attend the Power Lunch sessions. Through these workshops, parents are taught about literacy for adults, and referred to programs where they can learn to read and write, if needed.

Storytime, another part of Everybody Wins!, provides special enrichment activities, to instill the desire of reading into the lives of the children. A special entertainer, working with puppets, music, books, etc., performs anywhere between 45 minutes to one hour. The program, which was only in 2 of the D.C. schools last year, has now expanded into 7 different elementary schools for this fall. The projected plan is to have a Storytime activity in each school once a month. At the end of "storytime", the children are given a book that they can take home. Storytime is privately funded.

Everybody Wins! reaches out to those in the DC community. Parents' and students' lives are affected, as working professionals are taking an active part in the education of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The volunteers themselves are affected, as they are able to see the effects and happiness that comes from serving.