Contact Information

601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049 - 0001
(202) 434-2069
FY 2015 Social Innovation Fund

Executive Summary

AARP Foundation, an existing grantmaking institution, is a 501(c)3 organization established in 1961 as the charitable affiliate of AARP. Through the AARP Experience Corps program, AARP Foundation seeks an issue-based Social Innovation Fund award in the Youth Development focus area. Utilizing Experience Corps volunteer-led small group tutoring and literacy assistance models, AARP Foundation will make seven subrecipient awards to non-profit organizations among 19 eligible states: AZ, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MI, MN, OR, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA and WA.

Experience Corps is aligned with key players in the childhood literacy space including the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR), and has established a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at helping multiply the number of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade across the country. GLR will be instrumental in identifying strong GLR communities with a record of execution that have the capacity to launch an Experience Corps program as well as introducing Experience Corps to local funder "huddles" in their communities.

AARP Foundation requests $1,000,000 per year for five years. Initial matching funds will be provided through a combination of AARP Foundation funds, school fees, and personnel.

AARP Foundation Experience Corps proposes to serve 4,000 K-3rd grade children reading below grade level at seven subrecipient sites, representing 28 schools. Working with the independent evaluator, we will investigate the effectiveness and efficiency of (1) small group (3-4 children) and (2) small group plus classroom-wide assistance strategies. Should evaluation prove that these group interventions are comparable to one-to-one (1:1) tutoring, they could be deployed throughout the literacy tutoring sector to impact an exponentially greater number of high-need children nationwide.

Experience Corps is a program that matches volunteers aged 50+ with children in K-3rd grade classrooms who are struggling to read. Reading on grade level by the end of third grade has been linked through research to success in school, productive work, healthy life choices, and reduced incarceration, among other positive life outcomes. The January 2014 KIDS COUNT' data snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed that 66 percent of all US fourth graders and 80 percent of US fourth graders from low-income families are not reading proficiently. An estimated 6.6 million children in K-3 have fallen behind in reading. There is a critical need for replicable, scalable and cost effective models to be deployed to reduce the number of children not reaching this important benchmark. It is clear that 1:1 tutoring, while effective, will never be able to address the breadth of this problem, especially for children from low-income families who are typically not able to afford private tutors.

AARP Foundation Experience Corps' theory of change posits that by targeting schools in high need communities with large percentages of K-3 students who are below grade level in reading and providing well-trained adults who are 50 and older as volunteer literacy tutors, K-3 students will accelerate their literacy achievement and read on grade level by the end of third grade. In the seven subrecipient communities, 4,000 students will be selected to receive one of our two interventions: small group or small group in combination with full class literacy assistance. Working with the independent evaluator we will conduct an in-depth implementation and impact evaluation. As part of this, we will assess the efficacy of each model with the goal that 50% (2,000) will achieve one year of progress per year, and of those, 60% (1,200) will reach grade level each year, as reported by teachers or assessment scores.

AARP Foundation will invest in community-based non-profit host organizations with the mission alignment, school system relationships, capacity, and sustainability to adopt and implement the Experience Corps program.

As a current SIF grantee, AARP Foundation offers significant capacity and experience in evaluation, training, technical assistance, data gathering, and resource development to provide a full portfolio of assistance to promote subrecipient growth -- in both scale and impact -- as well as our identified outcomes. This is achieved by working in collaboration with subrecipients to gather qualitative and quantitative data to create customized subrecipient growth plans.

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