Archive | November 2013

Give the Gift of a Mentor

APIE Mentoring by the Numbers:

  • 972: Number of volunteers who have registered to mentor through APIE for the 2013-14 school year
  • $21,938: Value of volunteer service each WEEK if all 972 are placed, according to Independent Sector’s value of a volunteer hour in Texas
  • $125: APIE’s cost to support one mentor for one school year
  • 124: Number of Austin ISD schools where APIE mentors can serve
  • 4,000: Number of students still on the waiting list for a mentor in Austin ISD

Mentors can positively impact student attitudes and ambitions. Research has proved many benefits of mentoring, including:

  • keeping students in school
  • building students’ self-esteem
  • reducing likelihood of student involvement in risky behavior or use of illicit substances
  • decreasing depressive symptoms
  • improving student grades and academic attitudes
  • Developing students’ communications skills,
  • modeling and encouraging goal setting and taking steps to achieve those goals

To meet the needs of more students, we invite you to Give the Gift of a Mentor this December. Beginning with #GivingTuesday on December 3 and continuing through December 31, APIE’s goal is to raise $10,000 to broaden support for its Mentoring Program. Thanks to a generous $5,000 matching grant challenge from the Oppenheimer Foundation, a private Houston-based family foundation, your donation has the power to double its impact!

About #GivingTuesday

Give the Gift of a Mentor#GivingTuesday is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season added to the calendar on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The second annual #GivingTuesday is on December 3, 2013. In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, we want the giving community to come together for #GivingTuesday. (via)

Online Tutoring Resources

In the age of Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, it is increasingly hard to engage students with paper resources. Even the test APIE’s high school seniors have to take (the TSI, or Texas Success Initiative) is completely digital and graded by the computer immediately upon completion. This is pushing not only our Classroom Coaches and College Readiness Advocates, but also educational institutions themselves, to become more creative and tech savvy about how they make knowledge available to students.

Universities have reacted to these demands with the creation of MOOCs or massive open online courses. Schools like The University of Texas and Rice University jumped on the MOOC bandwagon fairly early and new schools are signing up every day. APIE is also using MOOC-style resources for its College Readiness tutoring., a website serving up “grammar with attitude,” provides diagnostic testing, lessons, and quizzes over writing skills, but the new staple of most Advocates’ repertoire is Khan Academy.

In 2004, Salman Khan — who had degrees in math, electrical engineering, computer science, and business — began tutoring his cousin living in Bangladesh over the Internet. The lessons were so successful that his other family members also requested tutoring. To accommodate the increasing demand, he moved his lessons from Yahoo’s Doodle Notepad to YouTube. But it was not just his relatives who were interested in his videos; people from all over were watching them. So Khan quit his job and started the website and non-profit organization Khan Academy.

Khan Academy offers diagnostic testing, instructional videos, practice problems, and assessments over a variety of subjects including math, biology, physics, chemistry, finance, computer science, history, logic, and grammar. The math lessons are totally free and incredibly thorough, ranging from the most basic math to calculus. Students are motivated to master skills through a badge system that rewards hard work and improvement. Teachers, parents, and “coaches” can sign up and track students’ progress.

As new technologies become available, communication and education must evolve. APIE and its tutors and mentors are constantly looking for new ways to connect with students and boost their performance. Khan Academy — and the many other websites, MOOCs, and online resources cropping up each day — are one way we can engage students who are more accustomed to Kindle and YouTube than textbooks and projectors.

Amanda Mills, College Readiness Advocate

Save the Date: Dec. 3, 2013

#GivingTuesdayWhat is #GivingTuesday?

#GivingTuesday, in short, is a celebration of giving. It is a growing movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. A first of its kind effort, #GivingTuesday will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners — charities, families, businesses, and individuals — to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season.

The second annual #GivingTuesday is Dec. 3. Mark your calendars! Immediately following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday aims to inspire people worldwide to improve their communities by giving back to local charities and causes they support.

How did #GivingTuesday start?

New York’s 92nd Street Y was the catalyst for #GivingTuesday. The U.N. Foundation provided their strategic and communications expertise, and a team of advisors shaped #GivingTuesday’s strategy. Mashable, Facebook, Variety, Groupon, and the William Morris Agency gathered leaders in the social good world for influencer meetings across the United States. More than 2,500 charities, organizations, and corporations participated in the first #GivingTuesday on Nov. 27, 2012.

Organizations saw a marked increase in donations year on year, and the movement left 2.5 million social media impressions, including those by the White House, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Gates.

Why 2nd Grade?

Why do we offer reading classroom coaching to 2nd grade? Why not 3rd, 4th, or 5th grades?

APIE’s 2nd grade Reading Classroom Coaching and Compañeros en Lectura programs are working to get students on grade level by 3rd grade. Leading education research supports the conclusion that a majority of students who cannot read by the 3rd grade have difficulty catching up academically (Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, 2012).

Results of a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students find that those who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers.”

–Double Jeopardy

A study of 382 students from kindergarten to third grade by Canadian researchers showed that the gap between strong and struggling readers increases as children get older (Early Warning Confirmed, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation). Data points showed that readers who struggled at the beginning of the study fell further behind their peers, who were reading on grade level, as the study progressed.

In 2nd grade, kids should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. By helping them achieve grade-level fluency and comprehension, APIE’s Reading Classroom Coaching and Compañeros en Lectura are increasing the likelihood that these students will continue to high school graduation.

According to Early Warning Confirmed, there is “a link between failure to read proficiently by the end of third grade, ongoing academic difficulties in school, failure to graduate from high school on time and chances of succeeding economically later in life.”

The ultimate goal of all of APIE’s programs is to provide Austin ISD students with the preparation they need to be successful through high school and beyond, including college and career. We hope that by starting early, in second grade, we can boost these kids’ chances of succeeding academically and therefore empower them to improve their economic futures.