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READING HELP: Everybody Wins Expands

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As kids head back to class, one program wants to help struggling students get ahead in school.

It doesn't take much to help, just an hour during your lunch. And, as Everybody Wins celebrates its tenth anniversary in Iowa, leaders want to make a difference for even more kids.

Everybody Wins Iowa is a program that matches mentors with struggling readers in elementary schools. Adults read with kids for an hour during lunch time. It’s called a power lunch. Executive Director Amanda Fletcher says last year, the program helped 400 students in 16 Des Moines schools. This year, the program is expanding. Everybody Wins will also serve the four elementary schools in Indianola, plus King Elementary and the Downtown school in Des Moines again.

Fletcher says students participating in the program show better attendance and reading scores. She says, "The most staggering statistic I came across was when kids enter school, low income students enter with just 25 picture book reading time, where as middle income students that come from these families have about 1,000 to 1,700 hours of picture book reading time."

Volunteers say they get just as much out of it as the kids. Drew Gentsch says, "They know you are there to read with them and to spend time with them, and when you walk in and that child gives you a smile, that is all the payoff in the world because you know you are making a difference."

You can sign up to volunteer at Everybody Wins Iowa.