There is a growing, national movement around literacy and community involvement in the classroom. Reading is the foundation for a child’s educational success, and students who struggle with reading in elementary school run a higher risk of not succeeding later in life. Many people in our community want to help children progress in reading, but are constrained by their busy work schedules and other obligations.
Recently, Valley of the Sun United Way developed an innovative new online tutoring program called Vello, which matches caring adult volunteers with students who can benefit from additional one-on-one reading guidance, no matter where the volunteer may be. Vello connects the volunteer directly to the classroom in a safe online environment.
Patti Brooks, President of Seabrooks, was first introduced to Vello in 2016 and immediately recognized how the Vello program and passionate professionals could make a huge impact on a child’s education success. She wanted Seabrooks to provide exceptional technical support to Vello participants to play a small part in making this innovative program a success. Seabrooks was chosen to provide support when “Vello” launched their pilot program in January 2017 and is looking forward to providing Vello support for many years to come. The Seabrooks team of dedicated technical support staff are committed to providing first class customer service to Vello participants.
It’s a 1.1 digital reading and volunteer platform that is making a difference across the country. United Ways in several cities are teaming up to mobilize their local communities around 3rd grade literacy and Vello provides a simple method to do just that.
An employee of a local company that wants to volunteer to help a child learn to read can connect to a simple ‘conference-style’ Internet link, and is connected to a digital library where students will be reading. Simultaneously, a second-grader in his classroom walks over to a computer kiosk, puts on a headset, and logs in to his custom e-library where that volunteer is ready to be a guided reading partner. Through shared screen and simple audio connection, Vello comes to life during the school day.
In Fall 2016 Vello was launched locally in Phoenix. It underwent beta testing at two partners districts of Valley of the Sun United Way; Roosevelt and Glendale. Classrooms were matched with team of corporate volunteers from companies including University of Phoenix, Wells Fargo, US Bank, KPMG, Vanguard, Deloitte, US Bank and AAA.
Soon after Vello launched through United Ways across the United States starting in Winter 2017 in Brownsville, TX; Boston, MA; Cincinnati, OH; the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois; with the goal of increasing access for students to tutoring during a critical time in their learning and development, and they have succeeded.
Mrs. L. Gonzalez, a teacher in Brownsville, TX, said, “My kids are loving interacting with their reading guide online. They really look forward to getting on the computer and answering their questions.”
Each Vello classroom has a team of approximately 12 volunteers who are tasked with helping students from First through Third grades by guiding them through a curriculum provided by Learning A-Z, a leader in the blended-learning instructional space. The volunteers simply need Internet access to connect to their assigned student, and participating classrooms are provided with a custom built computer kiosk that holds a digital library tailored for each child.
Five to six students are strategically selected by their teacher to receive ongoing tutoring twice a week through Vello. The leveled reading system from Learning A-Z is available to Vello students 24/7, meaning Vello classrooms are increasing reading time at home too!
Learn More About Vello and Get Involved
Now that Vello is up and running, and proving to be highly successful, the program needs sponsorship/fundraising, and tutor teams to volunteer in classrooms in order to continue its path to success both locally and nationally. To learn more, visit www.vello.org.