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Teachers College, Columbia University
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TC Joins 'Everybody Wins!'

Former businessman Arthur Tannenbaum wants TC faculty, students and staff to join his Power Lunch program. A big business deal isn't on his agenda. His goal is to encourage New York City boys and girls to read.

The Power Lunch is an outgrowth of a project he started in 1991, Everybody Wins. The Everybody Wins Foundation is a privately funded, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting children's literacy and increasing their prospects for success in school and life. Tannenbaum was inspired by a report mentioned in The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, which concluded that "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

Volunteers in the Power Lunch program are usually staff members from corporations which help fund Everybody Wins. Once a week these volunteers share lunch, conversation and a good book with an elementary school child with whom they are matched as mentors.

On January 26, Marjorie Lipkin, Manager of Volunteer Recruitment, and Mary McCarthy, Program Manager of Everybody Wins, will hold an information session at TC to present an overview of the program, in Room 179 Grace Dodge Hall, from 12:30 to 1:30. R.S.V.P. to Sarah Phillips at x3193.

Applications to the program will be available that day. About a week later, J. Daniel Rice, a May 1997 TC Master's graduate and Program Coordinator at the Everybody Wins Foundation, will hold an orientation session for volunteers.

The Foundation received a grant to start a program in Harlem and is asking Teachers College to provide the volunteers because of TC's prominence and its interest in community involvement. TC volunteers will go to P.S. 175 at 134th Street near Lenox Avenue. Transportation will be provided.

"New Yorkers are looking for ways to volunteer their time in record numbers, and many employers are getting on that bandwagon," says Don Dean, Director of Personnel. "Release time for volunteerism has been found to be motivational and to provide big payback for organizations. This initiative certainly fits in with our mission."

Volunteers must commit to reading to their assigned child once a week for the entire school year during that child's school lunch hour. Two people can act as a team, alternating the weeks that they go to read to the child. "The number one thing that teachers tell us is that the self-esteem of the children improves when they have someone coming in to see them every week," says Rice. This is why it is important to make the commitment through June and not to miss the appointments.

Volunteers and children are matched at random, with gender preference taken into consideration. The students are selected based on their need for reading help. Children with severe behavior problems are not selected for the program.

Rice likes reaching as many children as possible in his work. "I have a strong commitment to communities, like Harlem, that need the help," he says. And he says Arthur Tannenbaum shares that interest and commitment.

"One of the great equalizers is education," Rice notes. "Programs like this can help in that process."

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