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Experience Corps enriches lives, young and old

on November 18, 2010

Experience Corps, a national service program for adults 55 years and older, has enlisted Bay Area seniors—known as corps members—to tutor and mentor children in Oakland’s public schools since 2003.

Corps members volunteer at local schools up to twenty hours a week to help increase literacy among school children. “A lot of the research out there is pointing to the fact that kids need to learn to read by the end of third grade in order to succeed in school,” said David Moren, associate director at Experience Corps’ Oakland offices.

Oakland’s corps is operated in seven elementary schools and includes roughly 50 corps members, many of whom are retired. “Our schools are chosen primarily based on where there is need,” said Moren, who added that he hopes to increase membership in Oakland in the coming year.

Nationally, the program reaches roughly 20,000 students in 20 urban communities including New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Moren said, research suggests students who are paired with an Experience Corps member make 60 percent gains in their reading test scores.

“I don’t like the idea of children that work with poverty not being able to have a fair chance going into the school system,” said Suzanne Johnson, 61, a new Experience Corps member of her reasons for being involved with the organization.

Guadalupe Copendah, 73, echoed Johnson’s point adding, “I’m enjoying it. I really am,” she said of her experience at Emerson Elementary School. “It’s just so enriching. I love it.”

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  1. nelson on November 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Why not pay the tutors? Maybe they have so much money they don’t need it? We all know better than that. $15.00 an hour sounds okay, or maybe UCB could let them take courses at UCB for free in exchange for their efforts.

    • David Moren on November 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      As a matter of fact, Experience Corps does offer paid stipends to volunteers that serve 10+ hours a week. If you’d like more information, call Experience Corps Oakland at (415) 759-1545, email, or visit Thanks for reading and great idea about partnering with UCB for free classes!

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