The following are remarks given by Chris Flippo, Executive Director East Side Learning Center, at the July 2019 learning community event for Opportunity Saint Paul partners and volunteers

Imagine a world where all children learn to read, where all adults have the opportunity to earn a living wage, where people of all colors, backgrounds, faiths, and cultures live harmoniously.

That’s the community you are creating every time you volunteer.

Over these past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness first-hand the impact of your volunteer time. As part of the Opportunity Saint Paul program, staff from the seven partner nonprofits have had the opportunity to participate in data meetings with one of the world’s leading evaluators, Michael Quinn Patton.

We learned a lot about how to share data in meaningful ways and about how to understand our data and translate it. For example, I can now tell you that more than 75% of children in East Side Learning Center’s tutoring program grew enough to begin catching up to expected reading levels. This is something we previously struggled to report on. Being part of this data-informed group with Mr. Patton helped us show that to you and funders.

Since the children we serve are behind in reading, and since they are four times more likely to drop out of school if they aren’t reading at grade level by third grade, it’s really important that the children we serve increase their reading skills faster than the national average growth rate.

Here are just a few of our outcomes this year:

  • CommonBond showed that 49% of its students increased more than one grade level.
  • OSP volunteers at Daily Work helped 142 jobseekers find fruitful employment.
  • At Eastside Learning Center, 76% of students met their reading goal and 78% were reading at grade level this school year.
  • At Neighborhood House, OSP volunteers, who make up 13% of volunteers for the Adult Education program, helped 72% of students meet a job-related goal.
  • Reading Partners OSP volunteers gave 681 tutoring sessions this school year, valued at $17,300.
  • Youth Leadership Initiative participants feel strongly that their volunteer mentors show good examples of honoring other people’s opinions, cultures and lifestyles that are different than theirs.

Combined, Opportunity Saint Paul volunteers positively impacted the lives of approximately 2,000 youth and 200 adults by having a meaningful relationship with a child, teenager, or adult who needed another human to invest, care, and share.

Opportunity Saint Paul will kick off its 2019-2020 program year on Thursday, September 12, with an event at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church from 5:30-7:30 pm.