Washington DC - United We Serve, President Obama's call to service initiative, is marking July 27-August 2 as Education Week, highlighting the countless Americans who roll up their sleeves to read with a child, volunteer at a library, organize a book drive, and strengthen education and learning in other ways.
Each issue week shines a spotlight on service projects taking place across the country and features stories of ordinary people who make a difference in their communities.
“Volunteers play a critical role in promoting literacy, preventing dropouts, opening the doors to college, and helping students succeed in school and in life,” said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is leading the Administration's United We Serve initiative. “During Education Week, we hope to inspire more Americans to join in critical work of giving our nation's students the best education possible.”
One key focus is preventing summer learning loss. The achievement gaps that continue to exist for many disadvantaged students result not from students falling behind during the school year, but from losing out on chances to learn over the summer. Research shows reading just five books over the summer can prevent a decline in reading achievement scores. Further, the most successful way to improve reading scores for low-income children is to increase access to print materials and support local libraries.
Some of the activities taking place during Education Week include:
- On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and his wife, Patricia Shinseki, for the Department of Education's summer reading initiative, “Read to the Top!” The three read to more than 100 children in grades pre-K through 4 at the U.S. Department of Education's Plaza. (click here for more info)
- Target, Inc., is marshalling its Target Property Development team members in the design phase for its School Library Makeover program. The national program unites the company's commitment to education, volunteerism, and pro bono service, bringing new school libraries to 16 schools and thousands of students across the country. (click here for more info)
- New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Corporation for National and Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren will swear in nearly 200 AmeriCorps VISTA members on July 30. Serving through the NYC Civic Corps, the VISTAs will be matched with local public, nonprofit, andeducational organizations to recruit and manage volunteers and build sustainable programs to combat poverty. (click here for more info)
- The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa, FL, is sponsoring a Battle of the Books during the week of July 27. Club members are encouraged to read books throughout the summer and write brief essays on what they have read. Other events include older club members reading to younger ones and a Read at Home campaign. More than 150 youth are expected to participate. (click here for more info)
- Higher Achievement's Olympics of the Mind on July 31 will bring together 500 Higher Achievement scholars from the DC area at George Washington Middle School, Alexandria, VA. The students will compete in academic and athletic events. (click here for more info)
- The Corporation for National and Community Service will announce $20 million in Learn and Serve America grants that will go to schools, higher education, and community groups to engage students across the nation in service-learning projects that promote community service while enhancing students' academic and civic skills.
- The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is conducting a “Children's Letter-Writing Campaign—Support Military Children.” Atlanta children will have the opportunity to practice their writing skills by composing letters of thanks to the children of deployed military personnel. Volunteers will help by preparing supplies, overseeing the activity and collecting the letters which will be given to military officials for delivery. (click here for more info)
- The Greater Lewisville Family YMCA Camp Yipiyuk Teens in Flower Mound, TX, will be going green and planting trees for some much needed shade as part of their summer service initiative. A Tree Ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., July 31, with local author Penelope Kysiak reading from her book, Be Cool, Follow Earth's Rule. (click here for more info)
- Harlem RBI, a youth development program in East Harlem, and REAL Kids are sponsoring an on-field baseball clinic for 30 middle school students at Citi Field led by Mets star center fielder Carlos Beltran, who is a Harlem RBI commissioner. (click here for more info)
In addition to these events, United We Serve will highlight stories of education on its blog at Serve.gov all week. Organizations participating in United We serve are encouraged to sponsor education-oriented activities and projects and highlight them to the public and media as a way to recruit additional volunteers.
The other United We Serve issue weeks are Energy and Environment (August 3-9); Health (August 10-17); and Safety and Security (August 24-30). The final week (August 31-September 6) will focus on service by people of faith and faith-based organizations. The first issue week, Community Renewal, was July 20-26.