Give An Hour  ~ Change A Life! Volunteers Needed Now to Mentor Students This Fall

By Gayle Anderson

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County public schools have three primary goals:

Have 90 percent of third-grade students reading on or above grade level by 2020

Close the achievement gap by 10 percent by 2018 while increasing the performance of all groups

Graduate 90 percent of our students by 2018

It will take the entire community, working together to achieve these goals.

What can one person do?
What difference can one hour a week make?

A lot if you volunteer in our local public schools to help a high school senior graduate or a kindergarten student learn to read.

For more than a decade, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce has helped thousands of adult volunteers make a difference for students and helped the community raise its high school graduation rate from 70.8 percent in 2008 to 85.7 percent in 2016. (Official 2017 data will be released in September). This is a definite improvement, but it’s not enough. We still have work to do.

And our programs work.  Each year, more than 90 percent of the high school seniors we mentor graduate.  And most of the kindergarten through second grade children we help with reading reach grade level by third grade.  These programs are volunteer driven.  Our success is only curtailed by the lack of volunteers.

Our Corporate Volunteers Program is active in 16 elementary schools, and it’s very easy to help these children improve their reading skills. Each learning kit was developed by our elementary teachers to coordinate with the State’s curriculum. You come to the school, read with your students, and do the exercises.

The Senior Academy has expanded to serve some juniors as well as seniors and is a mentoring program once a week for an hour, reviewing graduation guidelines and encouraging students to continue making forward progress, while helping them explore career options. The program operates in five high schools.

Our volunteers rave about the programs’ effectiveness and enjoy their time with the students.

We need more volunteers willing to devote just one hour a week during the school year to help a student succeed. To help every child in need, we are recruiting volunteers now to begin working this September.  And we need everyone who cares enough to help just one child. 

Even if you haven’t been in school for a few years – or for a number of decades – this is an easy and effective way to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. Please give careful consideration and contact us for more information. We need you, and our children need you!

Gayle Anderson is the president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

For more information or to sign up to volunteer to mentor a student, call Jennifer Cobb at 336-728-9219 or email


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