AARP Experience Corps mentors, ages 50 and over, who have helped improve literacy rates in D.C. public schools were recently honored at a luncheon where civil rights icon, Congresman John Lewis, was the featured speaker.
Lewis (D-Ga.), 76, shared inspirational stories during his keynote speech at "Planting Seeds for the Next Generation," the May 31 event that honored both volunteer tutors and mentors who've devoted themselves to children and literacy through AARP Experience Corps.
"We have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to do what we can to help others," Lewis told the audience that gathered at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church Family Life Center.
"AARP Experience Corps volunteers live out that mandate as they fight to improve literacy rates for children in kindergarten through third grade in the D.C. Public Schools," said Debbie Stiller, director of the District of Columbia Branch of AARP Experience Corps.
Reading levels have improved among fourth-graders in D.C. over the past 10 years, but 56 percent are still reading below a basic level, according to the 2011 Nation's Report Card. By fourth grade, students with strongly grounded reading skills are reading for comprehension and prepared for greater success in life than fourth-graders still struggling to read.
Illiteracy in D.C. stands at nearly 40 percent. AARP Experience Corps' proven literacy program helps children become stronger readers before they finish third grade through the committed work of older volunteers.