You can make a difference in education

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We hear a lot about the problems our state’s education system is facing. What is often left uncovered is the multitude of organizations working to improve our public schools. One of these is the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation.  It’s a nonprofit organization aiming to “rally investments of time and resources to support academic success” in Saint Paul. It seeks to improve student performance by connecting neighborhood schools with their community. The foundation runs tutoring programs throughout the city, and provides grants to support great teachers and community organizations that inspire students to achieve.

On Tuesday mornings, I tutor a pair of 5th graders at Horace Mann Elementary School in reading, through a program established in conjunction with the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation. This is one of 13 school-based programs currently affiliated with the foundation, to go along with 24 community-based programs. Together, these programs will help 4,000 students throughout Saint Paul this school year.

The organization’s programs provide volunteer tutors with the resources and training necessary to work with students and encourage communication between tutors and classroom teachers. The program I am involved in is designed to help students who are just below grade level reach proficiency, but the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation offers programs to meet a wide variety of student needs.

This foundation is not alone. In communities across Minnesota, a number of similar programs exist to connect schools and their communities. My message to community members concerned about our state’s education system is to volunteer, if you have time. Each new volunteer helps fill some of the gap created by lost state funding. There will always be a need for individuals with the desire to help. These organizations typically match volunteers with the situation that best suits them. By committing just one hour a week, you could become a one-on-one tutor, help a group of students with homework, or be a positive role model for a student in your area. In doing so, you could help make education a priority again in Minnesota.