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Volunteering in NYC Featured

CommunityService.org kicks off its new “Volunteer NYC” campaign today, focusing on the  goal of creating both awareness and opportunity for those seeking to become involved in community activities.  With a population of more than 8 million in New York City and 20 million when including the outer metropolitan areas, volunteers play an integral role in fostering a sense of community and shared values. To the person who benefits from volunteer assistance, the connection eases the experience of isolation and frustration.

While there are many needs, the “Volunteer NYC” campaign focuses first on education, a subject that has received much national and state-wide attention. The NYC Service site lists more than 120 volunteer NYC opportunities in education alone.  Twenty-five percent of those received a star indicating that they work to solve educational issues deemed a priority by the city.  The NYC Service site sets up each opportunity as a volunteer assignment, which is sponsored by one of 30 non-profit organizations. Clicking on the sponsor’s link opens a window that gives all the details about the position as well as the qualifications sought in the volunteer.

Talents are in Demand

Each assignment serves a specific function, such as mentoring or tutoring. Most of the volunteer NYC positions are designed to aid a specific age group in a certain geographical region according to a predefined schedule.  Examples include middle school mentoring, after-school tutoring, helping students with writing assignments, and working with high school students who are preparing to take the SAT.

According to official sources cited in a New York Daily News article published in March 2010,  the high school graduation rate in New York City was 59% in 2009.  Although those results represent a slight increase over the previous year – which was 56.4% – there is more work to be done.

Assessments Tell the Story

To help volunteers best match their talents with the educational needs of students, a look at the most recent assessment results from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) offers a starting point.  These figures are taken from the Nation’s Report Card for New York City, school year 2008-2009.

Grade Subject % Advanced % Proficient %Basic %Below Basic
4th Math 5 35 38 22
8th Math 8 26 39 27
4th Reading 10 26 33 31
8th Reading 3 29 43 25
4th Writing 3 34 54 9
8th Writing 1 30 56 13

It is important to note that two assumptions were made when extrapolating this information from NCES data. First, it was assumed that the percentages must equal 100 when added, even though NCES did not provide the percent below basic.   Second, that it is reasonable to back into the percentages for individual levels that NCES showed as cumulative: at or below basic in their chart includes advanced, proficient and basic.

These results do explain why so many volunteer opportunities exist to tutor and mentor middle-school students, to help them in key subjects as they enter high school.  While science is a key priority subject,  no statistics from The Nation’s Report Card were available for New York City students.

The “Volunteer NYC” campaign will shine a light on the efforts and accomplishments aimed at solving some of the city’s  educational issues in upcoming posts.  By tutoring and mentoring, volunteers help student feel confident and comfortable with their ability to learn and exceed.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Peter Gene

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