America Reads & Counts, & Tutor Time

Since 1998, Rensselaer students have participated in the America Reads and America Counts programs in work-study capacities. These programs provide Rensselaer students a unique and rewarding opportunity: those students who love to volunteer tutoring young people, but believe they don't have the time because they have to work while they are in college, are afforded the chance to do both by participating in the America Reads & Counts program. The benefits are profound: the smiles on the children’s faces as they begin to achieve and excel and the satisfaction of using your talents to help a child learn some of the same skills that got you into Rensselaer are reason enough to participate! Becoming an America Reads or Counts tutor is an excellent opportunity for those who need to work and who want to be active participating citizens at the same time!

Since the program began, over 800 Rensselaer students have worked in the Troy Public Schools and its Ark Charter School mentoring children in grades Pre-K through 3 in basic reading skills so that they will learn to love reading, and in grades Pre-K through 9 so that they will become proficient in math. Three of Troy's schools are campus neighbors, and the remaider are easily reached on foot or by bus. RPI students who prefer to participate on Saturdays may select the RPI Tutor Time program: developed by Rensselaer students in 2001, this program has two locations - a local library and a local school cafeteria - and assists children from all over Troy and Rensselaer County in math and reading! Saturday participants carpool to the tutoring locations.

Who can participate?
All work-study qualified students who appreciate the value of children learning to read (America Reads) or to count (America Counts), who like children, and who have some prior experience working with children (i.e., siblings, in schools and/or in camps). The program also accepts qualified Rensselaer students as volunteers.

How to apply as a work-study student
Students who qualify for work-study should indicate the America Reads or America Counts program on their Work Study Application. Incoming freshmen will be mailed a Work-Study Application once the Financial Aid Office has received all of the necessary paperwork (1040’s & Verification Worksheet) and the student’s aid has been finalized. The applications are mailed beginning in early June. Returning students receive a Work Study Application along with the Financial Aid Award Letter as soon as their aid applications are complete. The award packages are mailed beginning in the summer.

Upon notification that the Financial Aid Office has assigned you to the program, the Dean of Students Office (DOSO) will send you an America Reads & Counts application form by email which you must complete and return to the program director for review. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Students may request an application at any time by sending an E-mail to Pre-College Programs requesting a work-study application.

How to apply as a volunteer
Students who want to participate in the program as regular volunteer should send an E-mail to Pre-College Programs requesting a volunteer application. The selection process for volunteers is the same as that for work-study students.

Tutor Selection
Qualified applicants will have submitted the required application and may be interviewed by the program director before actual selection into the program. Those accepted will receive training before they are assigned into one of the programs. Training is scheduled in early September and throughout the year as needed. School appointments will be made after training and usually by mid-September. Throughout the year, participants will be required to attend at least two "continuing training" programs for support and to improve their effectiveness in the field. Each appointee will be required to sign the “Terms of Understanding” before they begin the program.

Note that work-study and volunteer appointments into the program are for one year, and students are required to complete the application process annually in order to update information. Work-study students who are not given an America Reads & Counts appointment will be immediately reassigned by the Financial Aid Office to another Rensselaer department.

School Appointments
RPI students are appointed to a specific school classroom, afterschool or Tutor Time program, based on the school’s or program’s hours and on the available time the RPI student has in his/her schedule to contribute in a meaningful way. Some students are scheduled as little as one hour, and other students have devoted entire days in their busy schedules to the program. Hired students are required to turn in their work hours every other week and are paid for preparation, travel and tutoring. The appointments are generally for one year, but may be changed based on the student's schedule. At the end of each semester, appointees will be assessed by the program director and their teacher for eligibility for continued employment in the program.

Community Service, Phone: (518) 276-3098, Fax: (518) 276-4839