Work-Study Tutors (America Reads)

Tutoring in K-12 public schools, providing additional support to students and addressing inequities in public education in Seattle.

The University of Washington Work-Study Tutors program is designed to support schools’ efforts in increasing students’ success and engagement in relation to literacy and math skills. The Work-Study Tutors program is a partnership between the Office of Financial Aid and the CELE Center, managed by CELE’s Program Manager of School Based Internships and 2 graduate student coordinators who are dedicated to program management and the selection, training, and oversight of tutors. In support of Seattle Public Schools’ goals outlined in the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, Work-Study Tutors work exclusively in SPS Equity Tier 1 and 2 schools.  

More information on the SPS Equity Tiers Methodology can be found here

Program Background & History 

This work-study program at UW has held many different names, including: Riverways Tutors, America Reads / America Counts, and now finally and most clearly – Work-study Tutors.   

America Reads started in 1997 as President Clinton’s “America Reads Challenge,” a national literacy campaign to “ensure every student can read independently and well by the end of the third grade,” building on other programs like Title I and Head Start. 

In an effort to increase the reading and math proficiency of our nation’s children, tutoring in these areas has become a federal priority. The FWS regulations authorize a 100% federal share of FWS wages earned by a student who is employed to perform civic education and participation activities, such as: 

  • a reading tutor for preschool-age through elementary school-age children; 
  • a mathematics tutor for children in elementary school through ninth grade; or 
  • performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project that provides services to families with preschool-age children or children who are in elementary school. 

From the 2023-2024 Federal Student Aid Handbook, Chapter 2: The Federal Work-Study Program  

To begin participation in this program, Riverways Education Partnerships added a paid element through federal work-study (FWS) awards to an existing tutoring program with encouragement and support from the Office of Student Financial Aid. CELE Center started hiring tutors specifically for a standalone America Reads program in 2022, expanding our equity-oriented tutoring and mentoring programs. In Fall 2023, the program expanded once more to also include math support up to 9th grade. 

Program Components 

This program utilizes federal work-study awards (a part of a student’s financial aid package) to compensate the tutor’s effort. The day-to-day work of the tutor varies depending on the needs and priorities of the school placement site and classroom. Tutors can work anywhere from 6 to 19 hours a week at a school site during the UW academic year. 

In addition to tutoring at school sites, Work-Study tutors also participate in monthly cohort meetings for community building & training and periodic check-ins with Work-Study Tutoring Coordinators.