CLEVELAND (Jun 26, 2020) – Despite restrictions the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, Cleveland State University’s Office of Civic Engagement—in partnership with the Cleveland Public Library—innovates new avenues to connect with students, kindergarten through eighth grade.
Before the pandemic, the Office of Civic Engagement employed more than 70 CSU students who tutored elementary and middle school children at various Cleveland Public Library branches, through the CSU program America Reads. Due to social distancing and subsequent physical closure of libraries, the program had to adapt.
Anita Ruf-Young, of Cleveland State’s Office of Civic Engagement, and Aaron Mason, of the Cleveland Public Library, took America Reads online, setting up virtual sessions on Zoom, a video-conferencing platform. Since much of the program’s spring semester was cut short, Ruf-Young and Mason asked Cleveland State students working in the program if they would be willing to tutor in the summer—to which they received an overwhelming positive response, officially extending the program through July 31.
“I think this is a case of thriving despite circumstances,” Anita Ruf-Young says. “It’s difficult times like these that force you to get creative. And knowing that the undergraduate tutors that we have are just as dedicated to this cause as we are makes it all the more reassuring.”
Training and onboarding for undergraduates tutoring via Zoom this summer began June 1, and the program launched June 8.
“Cleveland Public Library's longstanding partnership with Cleveland State University demonstrates the university's commitment to the betterment of our community,” says Aaron Mason, Director of Community Engagement at the Cleveland Public Library. “During this time of significant challenges, Anita Ruf-Young has used her creativity and resourcefulness to the benefit of CPL's America Reads tutoring program. We are thankful for her leadership and, most importantly, the undergraduate tutors participating in this program.”
During the 2019–2020 school year, America Reads and Viking Corps student employees from all majors collectively spent 6,156 hours of service, engaging with 8,302 students in the Greater Cleveland community. The program seeks to educate children through the undergraduates’ tutoring and enrich CSU undergraduates by engaging with their community. For more information about America Reads and how to become involved, please visit urban.csuohio.edu/oce/office-of-civic-engagement.