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TAMIU AmeriCorps Program Celebrates ‘AmeriCorps Week’ with Benchmark Service in Literacy for Laredo Children Posted: 3/02/17

TAMIU AmeriCorps Program Celebrates ‘AmeriCorps Week’ with Benchmark Service in Literacy for Laredo Children


Reading Group
Melissa Shinn, Henry Cuéllar Elementary School principal, joins TAMIU's Dr. Roberson with a reading group.  

Texas A&M International University’s AmeriCorps program is celebrating “AmeriCorps Week,” March 5-11 with benchmark growth in the program that has provided over 10,000 service hours to Laredo through the TAMIU-Lamar Bruni Vergara Literacy Partnership.

AmeriCorps is a federally funded program in all 50 states dedicated to community service.

Dr. Philip Roberson, TAMIU associate professional with the College of Education and Literacy Partnership executive director, said the record achievement is a sign the program is meeting its charge: to serve Laredo kids and enhance their literacy skills.

“We have over 50 tutors in service at this time.  Many are students or graduates of TAMIU and LCC students, but we also have tutors from Arizona State and seniors from the Early College High School and United South High School.  With their partnership, we are on target to reach our next service goal of over 28,550 hours by July,” Dr. Roberson said.

He noted that AmeriCorps members must be US citizens/nationals or permanent residents, but they come from a wide variety of personal or educational backgrounds.

“To date, over 500 children at five different schools have received one-on-one tutoring from an AmeriCorps member. Most are kindergarten through grade 2 OK-2) students who are a year or more behind in reading. Some are third or fourth grade students reading at a K-2 level. Current campuses being served include United Independent School District’s Zaffirini Elementary and Laredo ISD’s  Macdonell, Santa Maria, Leyendecker and Ligarde Elementary schools. There are also LECs/tutoring centers in six other schools, funded exclusively by the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust,” Roberson noted.

This and next year’s AmeriCorps campus members will be reallocated based on UISD/LISD leadership’s collaboration with TAMIU faculty and staff, Heather Blagg Thornton, program manager, explained.

“If the districts identify a need at a different school, our tutoring centers may be moved to serve the most-in-need children. Additionally, our 2017-2018 program will place an increased focus on community volunteers who will be asked to share just 90 minutes of service each week. Those community volunteers will provide the tutoring power to drive much-needed expansion,” Thornton said.

She encouraged volunteers to join the tutoring effort.

“Volunteers can join at any time by emailing, agreeing to a background check, and meeting with lead tutors for training. Volunteers should be prepared to commit 90 minutes a week, or more if desired, for at least 10 weeks. For a community member wishing to join AmeriCorps, the best way to join is to follow our Facebook page at . Throughout the month of March, we will be profiling our tutors on our Facebook page.

“Recruitment for summer opportunities will start in March; fall semester recruitment will start in May. AmeriCorps tutors can commit to a part-time or full-time service year, and will earn the Segal Education Award which is like a scholarship that can either forgive past student loans or pay future tuition at any qualified college or university,” Thornton noted, “Volunteers may also allocate the Segal Education Award to children or grandchildren, so parents/grandparents ages 55 and over are also encouraged to apply.”

The TAMIU AmeriCorps Literacy Partnership will also have an information booth at Discover TAMIU, Saturday, April 1 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. to encourage volunteers to join the initiative.

For additional information, contact Thornton at, call 956.326.3150, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, Suite 421.