Schools of Hope FAQs

Why is Schools of Hope needed? 

In Sonoma County, less than half (48%) of third-graders currently read proficiently. In Mendocino County, less than a third (35%) read at proficiency. In Lake County, less than a third (31%) read at proficiency. Furthermore, more than three-quarters of English Language Learners read below proficiency in Sonoma County (86% in Mendocino County and 89% in Lake County).

Why focus on early reading? 

Increasing third grade reading proficiency is a core goal of the initiative since it is a strong predictor of so many successes later in life. Children not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate by age 19. Low early reading proficiency is also correlated to incarceration rates and is a predictor of adult income.

How does Schools of Hope aim to address this problem? 

We engage community volunteers to raise third grade reading proficiency to at least 90% by 2030. According to the United Way 2011 Education Overview, tutoring programs are most successful when students are seen one-on-one over 25 times in a school year. Schools of Hope students are seen twice a week for at least 12 weeks.

How effective is Schools of Hope? 

An evaluation of Schools of Hope by Sonoma State University in 2014 found that first and second grade students who received tutoring showed reading proficiency growth between 16% and 23% higher than non-Schools of Hope students who started with similar scores. You can view the most recent program evaluation by Sonoma State University: click here.

Is Schools of Hope valued at participation schools? 

Teachers, students, and volunteers alike love Schools of Hope! According to our most recent tutor satisfaction survey in 2018, 92% of volunteers reported they rated their overall tutoring experience as either good or very good.  87% of classroom teachers expressed they were very satisfied with the program.

And then add this question at the bottom, second to last, right before How do I get started?

Are there Spanish-language volunteer opportunities with Schools of Hope? 

Cesar Chavez Language Academy is a SOH participating English/Spanish dual immersion school in Santa Rosa.  If you are fluent in English and Spanish and would like to tutor a student in Santa Rosa, please contact Ariel Vipond at (707) 528-4485 ext. 103 or In Ukiah, Grace Hudson Elementary is a SOH participating English/Spanish dual immersion school. If you are fluent in English and Spanish and would like to tutor a student in Ukiah, please contact Bonnie Schoefer at (707) 467-3200 ext. 316 or email at

Can I volunteer at any school?

Volunteers can select a school most convenient for them from the 37 schools that are participating in the Schools of Hope program during the 2018-2019 school year. It is also possible to volunteer in a general geographic area and we will select the school whose needs match the volunteer’s availability.

How much time do I need to commit and when?

Tutoring sessions will last 30 minutes during the school day for the duration of the school year (October through the end of May). We ask that you commit to at least one tutoring session per week. In most cases, door-to-door time will be less than 1 hour. We will match your time availability with the needs of the school.

Can I tutor more than one student?

Yes, but most tutoring sessions will be one-on-one, so you must extend your time commitment. Some tutors may spend several hours a week and work with multiple children.

I’m not a teacher. Can I do this?

We have volunteers from all walks of life and all educational levels. Schools in our program will provide activities and materials for the volunteer. The Schools of Hope Training Session will provide the basic skills that you need to be comfortable and effective as a tutor.

What if I have to miss a week or more?

We all have times when illness, vacations or job responsibilities will force us to miss a week. We ask that if you know ahead of time, please attempt to arrange a substitute using an email list that will be provided of other volunteers at the school. If that is not successful, please just let the Site Coordinator know that you will be absent and the child will simply stay in class.

I travel for part of the year. Can I still do this?

Yes. When it is known in advance that you will be absent, the Site Coordinator may ask you to recruit a substitute. You will be given an email list of other tutors at the school that you may contact to see if they are willing fill in or switch times. Some tutors may also choose to share a tutoring spot, alternating weeks.

Where will I do the tutoring?

Some schools may have limited space, but will try to provide the best possible setting for the tutor and student. Some tutors are able to meet with their student in the library or at the back of the classroom.

What if I need more training or support?

Each school has a School Site Coordinator assigned to answer any questions or concerns that may arise. In addition, the principals at each school are supportive of the program and want to know if you experience any problems. We also highly encourage volunteers to take advantage of advanced training opportunities, which will be provided throughout the year.

Can I do things with the child outside of the program/school?

Schools of Hope is a school-based program and does not allow volunteers to work with children outside of the structured school setting.

Can I give gifts to the students that I tutor?

Volunteers should not bring gifts or food treats for individual children. With teacher approval, volunteers may bring snacks for the entire classroom or they may make a donation of books or supplies for the classroom.

Will I receive progress reports of the students that I tutor?

While you will not receive formal progress reports, as a tutor, you will be informally assessing the students progress through your activities. In addition, teachers may be able to share more information with you when needed to the extent that privacy laws allow.

Can my group/company adopt a school?

If you have a group of 15 or more people and are interested in adopting a school, please contact Nicollette Weinzveg, Education Program Officer, at 707-528-4485 x141 to discuss this option.

How can I bring Schools of Hope to my neighborhood?

If you are interested in providing resources or connections to expand this program, please contact Nicollette Weinzveg, Education Program Officer, at 707-528-4485 x141.

How do I get started?

  1. Apply online by going to or contacting Ariel Vipond at 707-528-4485, ext. 103 or
  2. Attend an Orientation Session.
  3. Complete a fingerprint background check.
  4. Submit a valid TB test or TB risk assessment.
  5. Attend a Tutor Training at your chosen school. Tutor Training developed and delivered by reading specialists and teachers from Sonoma County.