AmeriCorps seeks more tutors as Minnesota children fall behind in reading and math

WILLMAR, Minn. — Janessa Rodriguez was fresh out of high school in 2023, with no idea what her next steps would be.

Searching on the Indeed jobs website, she found an AmeriCorps math tutoring job at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, a school that she attended.

“I struggled with math too, so I understood what these kiddos were going through,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t think I’d be good at it, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Tutors like Rodriguez help kids work on their math or reading skills individually or in small groups, a more personal approach to learning that AmeriCorps utilizes in schools across Minnesota.

The AmeriCorps tutoring program in Minnesota started with Reading Corps in 2003 and expanded with Math Corps in 2008. The organization’s goal is to get kids in grades K-3 to achieve grade-level proficiency in reading and math. However, according to AmeriCorps, fewer than a third of Minnesota students are doing so.

That’s why the organization is looking for 900 tutors across Minnesota for the upcoming school year.

“Ever since the pandemic, students have fallen behind in these areas,” said Laura Isdahl, senior manager at Reading Corps. “That’s why the need for these positions have grown.”

That’s why a more personal approach to early learning could be a solution, according to the director of Minnesota programs Christine Fankhanel.

“When students work with a tutor, incredible things happen,” said Fankhanel in a news release. “They often make more than a year’s progress during the school year.”

Rodriguez can attest to that.

“One of the most rewarding things about this job is that light bulb moment when a kid understands a concept that they’re struggling with,” Rodriguez said. “And to not only build relationships with the kiddos, but the staff as well, it’s very rewarding.”

Rodriguez is now going to Ridgewater College, receiving tuition assistance from AmeriCorps. Tutoring, however, is not just for high school graduates or college students.

Isdahl said about two-thirds of tutors are retirees or parents who want to get back into the workforce. They also have flexible hours, with the choice of working 18, 25 or 35 hours a week, with a stipend every two weeks that is equivalent to about $15 an hour.

Isdahl also said that there is training for tutors before their positions start to ensure they feel prepared.

“I’d highly recommend it, especially for college students,” said Rodriguez. “But it’s really for anybody who wants to work with kids.”

AmeriCorps directs those interested in a position to go online for more information at

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