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150 Orange County Students Improved  Their Reading Proficiencies Thanks To  United Way-supported Tutoring Program

150 Orange County Students Improved Their Reading Proficiencies Thanks to United Way-supported Tutoring Program

TutorMate program key component in United Way’s mission to cut the high school dropout rate in half

IRVINE – Orange County United Way today announced results from the TutorMate program for the 2015/16 school year.

This United Way-supported program enabled volunteers to read with Santa Ana school first-grade students once a week for 30 minutes without leaving their office. Tutors connect with students using a telephone and an innovative shared-screen online tutoring program. Each tutor works with the same student throughout the school year, building a meaningful rapport and mentoring relationship.

In all, 150 active volunteers logged over 1150 hours tutoring children who were reading at below grade level proficiencies. In total, 150 students in 18 classrooms at six Santa Ana schools participated in TutorMate. The program was capped off with  celebrations at several participating schools, one of which that took place on May 19th at Garfield Elementary School in Santa Ana where students and tutors met each other for the first time.

TutorMate makes measurable impacts in the development of program participants, ensuring they are ready for second grade. This year, all participating students saw increased reading levels. On a 1-60 scale, on average, students increased 20 points, and some over 30 points.

Research shows that students who don’t read at grade level by third grade are four times as likely to leave high school without a diploma.

“Increasing grade level reading proficiency can have huge effects on a child’s future,” said Orange County United Way’s Sergio Contreras, Senior Manager, Education. “Children that miss their opportunity to obtain this common tool are at far higher risk of dropping out of high school. One of United Way’s FACE 2024 objectives is to cut the high school dropout rate in half, and we believe that TutorMate is a promising program to help us achieve this goal.”

Employees at several of Orange County’s leading businesses took part in the TutorMate program, including Edwards Lifesciences.

“Participating in the TutorMate program through United Way was one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences of my life,” said Katrina Headle, Senior Corporate Giving Specialist at Edwards Lifesciences. “I couldn’t wait to work with my student for our scheduled weekly tutoring sessions, and our time together always felt personal and impactful.”

Other supporting businesses that encouraged volunteer engagement include US Bank, Amway, Ingram Micro, KPMG, University of California, Irvine and United Way.

While TutorMate has reached its conclusion for the school year, United Way is working with partners throughout the county to raise awareness and reduce the Summer Slide, which is the phenomenon when many children, especially those from low-income families, lose some of the reading achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Partners in this effort include after-school programs, summer camps, libraries, health care centers, businesses, city agencies and resource centers.

To learn more about the TutorMate program or how to get involved, please visit https://www.unitedwayoc.org/tutormate.


Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, katheriner@unitedwayoc.org

Michael Suydam
21Strat 949.981.5008, mike@21strat.com


Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County. To do this, we focus on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County’s children, families and individuals, we help them meet their most basic human needs, including food, shelter and medical care, while at the same time creating pathways to self-sufficient futures through education and training. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year initiative “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), United Way is mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of Orange County youth and families. Orange County United Way holds a 4-star rating from America’s largest and most-utilized independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

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