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Free tutoring benefits Ripon kids

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Student assistant Alora Garcia uses an iPad to film the next scene as the Ripon Elementary School Give Every Child a Chance After School Advantage Program participants made a short video. Older stu...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 8, 2013 1:36 a.m.

Nearly 150 Ripon students benefit weekly from free tutoring through Give Every Child a Chance.

The non-profit program offers one-on-one tutoring at Heartland Church, Colony Oak, Weston Parkview and Ripon Elementary. They currently have 10 volunteer tutors helping about 80 students in one-on-one sessions. They need more volunteers as there is a waiting list of students needing help.

Tracking shows almost 80 percent of all students involved with the one-on-one tutoring improve at least a grade level.

The balance of the students participate in an after school program at Ripon Elementary that offers various activities including homework assistance.

Volunteer tutors can be fifth graders all the way to senior citizens. Volunteers are asked to invest an hour a day, twice a week to mentor students. They are matched by interests and abilities. Give Every Child Chief Executive Officer Carol Davis notes that high school students can tutor for community service to help enhance their college applications.

 If you are interested in volunteering call GECAC at 823-6532.

The success of the GECAC program has prompted Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, to work to secure support in the House of Representatives for obtaining grant funds to export Give Every Child a Chance’s successful community-based free tutoring formula throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

 Federal and state educators have lauded the success rate of the Manteca-based program. Audits show 78.2 percent of all struggling kids involved in various GECAC tutoring endeavors improved at least a grade level in school.

The tutoring effort is now in its 16th year with 51 sites throughout Manteca, Ripon, Weston Ranch (Stockton) Lathrop, Banta, and Escalon helping almost 5,000 children every week.

Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer believes the GECAC  formula can make a big dent in San Joaquin valley illiteracy rates.

Messer noted teachers in the Manteca district don’t hesitate to refer struggling kids to the various GECAC  programs that range from one-on-one tutoring to group endeavors such as After School Advantage Programs that offers basic homework assistance and enrichment  programs.

In fact, Messer is so sold on its effectiveness that he’s traveled on his own dime in the past to Washington, D.C., to share with education bureaucrats and congress members how effective GECAC has been

Messer said the GECAC administrative staff is sensitive to how each community they serve has different needs, concerns, and issues.

“They (GECAC) will need to keep that in mind if they expand throughout the valley,” Messer said.

The push to expand GECAC throughout the SJ Valley comes from federal officials impressed with the continue success of the non-profit organization. Federal government funding of $2.2 million accounts for 96 percent of the organization’s budget.

The SJ Valley’s low rate of literacy was documented in February in a resource study by Central Connecticut State University. Three valley cities were in the bottom six of 76 cities surveyed. They were Fresno at 70th place, Stockton at 74th, and Bakersfield at 76th.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau places 16.7 percent of valley residents living below the poverty level. The lack of literacy is considered one of the major contributing factors to poverty.

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