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MU Programs Provide 38,000 Hours of Free Tutoring To Schools

Mizzou's "Jumpstart" and "A Way With Words & Numbers" saves local school districts about $785,000 in tutoring costs

November 4th, 2009

Story Contact: Kelsey Jackson, (573) 882-8353,
A jumpstart tutor and her student work on reading and comprehension. Jumpstart is funded by AmeriCorps and primarily works with low-income children ages 3 to 5.

A jumpstart tutor and her student work on reading and comprehension. Jumpstart is funded by AmeriCorps and primarily works with low-income children ages 3 to 5.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – With recent budget cuts for public school funding, some students struggle to receive the educational instruction they need. To help relieve this problem, the University of Missouri is partnering with local school districts to provide free tutoring. This past year, the MU “Jumpstart” and “A Way With Words & Numbers” programs have given 3,700 Columbia children more than 38,000 hours of tutoring, saving the district $785,000 in tutoring costs.

“I think it is important for people to understand the effect that these programs can have for students,” said Daniel Todtfeld, Jumpstart tutor. “Jumpstart serves a low SES population.  The students qualify for Title 1 preschool programs, which means that they do not come from financially secure households. These programs give students a little edge and preparation socially and academically that they would not have otherwise.”

A Way With Words & Numbers, a 13-year-old program funded primarily by  community service and work study financial aid, and Jumpstart, a 7-year-old program funded by work study financial aid from the University of Missouri and Columbia College, as well as AmeriCorps, utilize MU and Columbia College students for free tutoring. Jumpstart reaches nine elementary schools and targets 3 to 5-year-old students with a low income background. A Way With Words & Numbers reaches all elementary and middle schools in the district. Nearly 380 undergraduate and graduate student tutors who come from a variety of disciplines work with the programs for several years. For many student tutors, the rewards go beyond teaching.

“These programs are great not only for the elementary and middle school students, but also for the undergraduate and graduate students to gain real work experience,” said Kathleen Dorsey, graduate student and site coordinator with A Way With Words & Numbers. “It is a collaborative effort between our programs and the schools that really makes it click. We work hard as tutors and site coordinators, but the schools work equally hard giving us great experiences to take away from our undergrad and graduate education.”

In addition to tutoring, the programs contribute to local and national community service projects. On Oct. 8, Jumpstart members participated in “Read for the Record,” an annual program that tries to get students across the country reading the same book on the same day. In past years, the program has broken world records, and celebrities such as Matt Lauer have read the book to large audiences. This year’s book was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, and the campaign hoped to break a new record of 1 million readers. Members of Jumpstart and A Way With Words & Numbers also have volunteered for local food banks and special readings and tutoring sessions at local libraries and childcare centers.