Once a week, a group of Department of Education employees spend their lunch hour with students at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, just five blocks from ED headquarters, as part of the Everybody Wins! DC (EW!DC) Power Lunch program. Last Friday, Secretary Duncan stopped by the school’s library to thank the program’s organizers as well as the ED volunteers on the final day of this year’s program. “You make a remarkable difference in students’ lives,” he said.
The Secretary was also on hand to witness the delivery of 150 new books that ED employees had donated to students participating in the program. Even on a sunny and cool Friday afternoon, the students were eager to skip recess and read with their mentors.
EW!DC’s Power Lunch is a reading and mentoring program serving Title I public elementary schools in the Washington, D.C., area that exposes children to literature, gives them a positive role model, and inspires them to read. About 1,200 volunteers from 108 organizations (including federal agencies) and more than 115 Congressional offices participate.
The program was a favorite of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and also Sen. Tom Harkin, and even the Washington Nationals baseball team is involved. Target Corporation recently signed up to be the lead mentor corporate sponsor at Amidon, and donated book carts, school supplies, and 1,500 books. The school will soon benefit from a Target School Library Makeover.
The best thing about EW!DC is that it works. An Education Department evaluation that examined PL pre- and post-program assessments found that Amidon-Bowen students, whose reading levels were once among the lowest in Washington, D.C., improved in reading comprehension and fluency; vocabulary; interest in reading; class participation, and social interaction with peers.
Select this link for more information on the Everybody Wins! DC program.
Melinda Malico is Director of Internal Communications at the Department of Education