GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - In an effort to make sure all students are on an even playing field when it comes to learning, one local non-profit is reaching out to the kids who need the most help in school.
But with the way its program has grown in just a few short years, it's the one who is now in need of some help.
As a teacher, Mary Gonzales has often found herself in situations where she knows her students are bright, but for one reason or another they just aren't excelling in school.
"It was just watching those students who didn't necessarily have home environments that were supportive -- that motivated me to create something for these kids," says Gonzales.
So in 2006, she and another woman launched the Riverside Educational Center, or REC.
"They have potential like everybody has potential," says Gonzales. "They just needed that extra boost."
The program takes students grades K - 12 and pairs them up one-on-one or in small groups with a trained adult tutor for an hour. First, the tutors help them work through their homework.
"If I have trouble with something and my mom isn't home, then I have other people to help me with it," says Nida, a REC student.
Then -- particularly with the younger students -- the tutor works with them on basic skills like reading and writing.
"It's a really rare opportunity for a student to read out loud to an adult,' says Gonzales. "A teacher doesn't have a whole lot of time in their day for that. So the tutors do a lot of reading out loud together."
And it appears to be working. Gonzales says she almost always gets positive feedback from both the students and their teachers.
"It helped me with my grades, keeping my grades up," says Ciara, a REC student. "They supply stuff for us and they help a lot."
"They tell me students are turning in their homework on a regular basis, that they have a better attitude in class," says Gonzales.
She gives all the credit to her volunteer tutors.
"We provide a program that students want to come to and they benefit from it," says Gonzales. "And it's these volunteers who invest their time into these students."
But she says it's going to take more volunteers to keep REC going strong, given that this year about 100 students are enrolled.
"If we can get commitments from people to come volunteer one night a week for just two hours, that would serve our organization greatly," says Gonzales.
If you would like to get involved you can call Gonzales at (970) 433-0481. For more information about REC, click on the link below under Related Links.