10 Literacy Organizations Seeking Volunteers Over 50

Are you interested in helping kids in your community learn to love reading, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. These 10 literacy nonprofits are actively seeking older volunteers, and value the wisdom and experience you bring.

Note: To ensure the safety of the children they serve, nonprofits require background checks (typical cost $20-$40) along with your application. When you get in touch, they can explain the details.

1. AARP Foundation Experience Corps is an intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program that works to help children who aren’t reading at grade level become great readers by the end of third grade. Studies by Johns Hopkins University and Washington University in St. Louis show that it works — producing important benefits for students and tutors alike. Created by Encore.org 20 years ago, Experience Corps tutors are all over 50; some sites offer stipends. See if your city has a chapter and opportunities available, and then apply here.

2. Reading Partners provides students with the individualized reading support they need to read at grade level by fourth grade. Currently operating in 11 states, volunteers follow a structured curriculum to help students learn specific skills necessary to become proficient readers. Learn more and get involved here.

3. The Oasis Institute runs a large intergenerational tutoring program that pairs children in grades K-3 who need support with adults 50+ who have been trained to use a proven approach to literacy that emphasizes reading, talking and writing. There are now 4,500 volunteers working in 19 cities across the country. Learn more and find the website for your city here.  

4. Jumpstart helps break the cycle of poverty by providing language, literacy and social-emotional programming to preschool children from under-resourced communities.  Adults over 50 receive high quality training to implement Jumpstart’s outcome-based program, promote children’s school success, and build family involvement. As  Community Corps members, they spend 8-12 hours per week with kids. Some sites offer stipends for service and/or opportunities for capacity-building and skills-based volunteers. Learn more and apply here.

5. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership is working to ensure every young person has the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive and engaged adults. Enter your zip code into their Mentoring Connector and discover opportunities to help young people learn to read or improve their reading skills.

6. Jewish Coalition for Literacy is dedicated to eliminating childhood illiteracy by mobilizing tutors, engaging parents and expanding home libraries to help underserved public school children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more and get involved here.

7. School on Wheels provides tutoring, school supplies and other educational assistance to thousands of homeless children who need additional support. Learn more about becoming a volunteer in either Los Angeles or Indianapolis.

8. Read to a Child is a national literacy and mentoring nonprofit that inspires caring adults to read aloud regularly to underserved children to create better opportunities for the child’s future. Learn more here, and if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer you can call (781) 489-5910 or email [email protected]

9. Reading Is Fundamental is the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, maximizing every contribution received to ensure all children have the ability to read and succeed. Register here to become a volunteer. You can also download toolkits on how to be a literacy advocate, host a book drive, become a reading mentor and more!

10. HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) empowers parents to be their child’s first and most important teacher. The organization prepares preschool children for success via an evidenced-based curriculum in the home. HIPPY programs serve 16,000 families in 129 communities nationwide. Find a program near you here, and contact them if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer.

If none of these opportunities work for you, search our Opportunity Finder by zip code to find something in your area or check out these 10 ways to boost childhood literacy on your own!

Powered by Encore.org, Gen2Gen is a national campaign to mobilize older adults for kids who need champions. Check out Gen2Gen on Facebook and join a community of people who believe in the power of intergenerational relationships. Gen2Gen Reads is a mini-campaign running through the end of 2017. Learn more and sign up at iamgen2gen.org.