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Project Rally seeks student tutors to combat achievement gap

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Students participate in “Rug Time,” one of the activities that Project Rally uses to supplement instruction. “Rug Time Activities include reading a storybook together and then working on an activity related to the book,” Project Rally Coordinator Shirley Mak said. “This week, the kids brainstormed examples of good and bad behavior, played games as a group and took turns sharing on specific topics like: How was your day? What were you for Halloween?” Photo Courtesy of Shirley Mak.

Project Rally, a tutoring program focused on fighting Palo Alto’s achievement gap, is looking for student tutors after launching earlier this year at Fairmeadow and Hoover elementary schools.

Formed as a collaboration between East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring and the Palo Alto Unified School District, Project Rally aims to solve a “city-wide problem,” according to Project Rally Coordinator Shirley Mak.  

“I believe there is a significant achievement gap in Palo Alto, as there tends to be in areas with high levels of socio-economic disparity,” Mak said. “Even when students from lower economic backgrounds have access to the same teachers, classrooms and resources as their peers who come from much higher socio-economic backgrounds, they often perform much lower academically in comparison.”

Project Rally focuses specifically on improving reading ability at elementary schools.

“[We want to] provide academic, physical, and emotional support to disadvantaged K-1 students and empower parents to help their children read proficiently,” Mak said. “Research shows that students who do not read proficiently are more likely to drop out of high school so we’re trying to address this early on with one-on-one literacy support.”

Currently, Project Rally students are all either voluntary transfer program students from East Palo Alto or students who qualify for free or reduced lunch at the participating schools, according to Mak.

Though the subjects of sessions differ, they follow three main themes.

“Tutoring sessions typically consist of 45 minutes of instruction that revolve around phonetic awareness, reading and verbal skills of writing, speaking and listening,” Mak said.

As Project Rally is volunteer-based, they are always looking for more tutors to work with our students, according to Mak.

Mak is using students interested in tutoring for Project Rally to e-mail [email protected] or fill out an online application form on Tutors must be at least 14 years of age.

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