UWGT announces new tutoring partnerships with schools

United Way announces new
tutoring partnerships with
grade schools in three districts

TOPEKA, KS, Nov. 19, 2018—United Way of Greater Topeka (UWGT) has announced new partnerships with three Shawnee County school districts to expand math and reading tutoring. The new grants will help students reach and stay on grade-level in elementary reading and math in the Seaman, Shawnee Heights and Topeka Public school districts.

Helping more students reach and stay on grade-level in these subjects is one of United Way’s impact goals. Those goals focus on alleviating underlying causes of generational poverty in the areas of education, financial stability and health.

“When we work through the proposal process for our impact grants, we are always looking to reach the most people for the right amount of dollars,“ said Becky Holmquist, United Way Board Chair.  “We also strive for outcomes that we can measure and that move those we are helping to the next level of success. These new grants are a result of having partners and volunteers from all across the community and professional spectrum who have new ways of looking at challenges.”

UWGT CEO Jessica Lehnherr said the Community Impact staff and volunteers were energized by the opportunity to try something new. “Traditionally, we have granted tutoring money to community partners that may or may not operate inside a school,” she said. “We were reaching students in an indirect, but effective fashion. When we gathered several superintendents together to ask their advice, it became clear there was an opportunity to support academically at-risk students right there in their own schools, using the teachers who work with them every day, in an environment where the schools can really measure the impact of these interventions.”

United Way has approved grant proposals for three schools, one in each district. United Way will work with each district to evaluate program effectiveness at the end of the year. If the partners agree that the approach is helping, the grants will continue through the three-year impact cycle that ends in 2021.

Even though each school proposed a unique approach tailored to the needs of its students, all three programs have the same underlying goal. “All of our kids deserve high quality foundational learning,” said Steve Noble, Seaman Superintendent.  “It is essential for them to master reading and math skills because these basic skills springboard them to higher-order thinking, reasoning and application. With the help from the United Way of Greater Topeka, our kids have a better chance than ever before of mastering their foundational learning skills.”

“We are so excited to have all these schools on board,” said Brett Martin, Vice President for Community Impact at UWGT. “The superintendents and staff have been a tremendous help in making this all happen quickly. One of our persistent challenges has been tracking outcomes across very diverse programming. Now that the districts are involved, we have new channels of communication that should help us gather more consistent data across the community and help everyone involved maximize the impact of these investments.”

United Way On-Grade Achievement Tutoring Partnerships

 Seaman School District

School: Logan Elementary
Student impact:  84 students
Nutrition: Snacks provided to all students
Approach: Tutoring in reading and math through project-based learning
Parent Engagement: Printable books will be sent home with students to read at home with family on a weekly basis. Projects will be available to families once per quarter.

Shawnee Heights School District

School: Tecumseh North
Student impact: 40-50
Nutrition: Snacks provided to all students
Approach: Tutoring in reading, assessed and monitored monthly with running records. Students will set goals for their reading level with the classroom teacher and will monitor and chart their progress weekly in their goal notebook.
Parent Engagement: The student’s notebook will be sent home every two weeks to be reviewed and signed by the parent and returned to school. Additional books and reading material that parents can use to assist the student at home will accompany the notebook.

“We are extremely excited to partner with UWGT and believe that with this additional intervention we can make a significant difference in the lives of many of our students.”  –Martin Stessman, Shawnee Heights Superintendent

Topeka Public Schools

School: Meadows Elementary
Student impact: 90 students
Nutrition: Meadows is a Community Eligibility Provision school, which means that every child is provided free meals. This will mean that tutoring students at Meadows will be offered breakfast, lunch, and dinner 3 days a week.
Approach: Reading and math standards will be used to develop Hands-on STEM activities. Reading support will include a weekly book club.
Parent Engagement:  Parents will be invited to a showcase of learning on the final day of each unit. Students will present their projects or learning

“This opportunity has sparked excitement in the school community and we are looking forward to improved student achievement as a result of the hands-on STEM learning students will experience. ” – Sarah Sharp, TPS General Director of Early Childhood/Elementary Education