Our new virtual setting

WITS is excited to offer a virtual reading mentoring program for students and mentors for the 2020-2021 school year. The virtual program will bring together students and adult volunteers for a year of mentorship, shared reading, and community building – all staples of a traditional WITS program. The program was designed with the unique needs of a virtual setting in mind. WITS will provide access to a robust online library of children’s books. WITS will utilize whole group activities and breakout groups, where students and mentors will form teams of readers. Most importantly, WITS will make sure that our virtual space is welcoming, encouraging, and safe for students.



Discovering the world of books

WITS Kindergarten (WITSK) develops trusting and fun relationships between adults and students with the intention of developing the mindset for learning at an important developmental age. WITS Kindergarten mentors read one-on-one with kindergarten students, helping them build book and print awareness, letter name and sound recognition, as well as developing a lifelong love of reading. WITSK volunteers commit to working with the same students once a week for 60-90 minutes from October-May.


Cognitive transition

Mid-Day Mentoring (MDM) supports 2nd and 3rd grade students during the later stages of the transition from learning to read and reading to learn. This significant, and often difficult, milestone requires students to exercise strong foundational literacy skills in order to comprehend increasingly challenging curriculum. Volunteers travel to the school and are paired with the same student for an entire school year. Volunteer-student pairs spend time reading aloud and building comprehension skills through conversation. MDM mentors make a weekly or bi-weekly commitment from October-May.


Office exposure

Workplace Mentoring (WPM) provides one-on-one mentorship in a professional setting. 4th through 8th grade students are bussed after school to downtown corporate offices, where they spend time reading. WITS program facilitators lead literacy-based activities, which foster student-mentor conversation and bonding. Participating students also gain insight about what it is like to be a professional employee at a major Chicago firm. WPM mentors make a weekly or bi-weekly commitment from October-May.


Preparation matters

The WITS Early Childhood Summer Program (ECSP) is a literacy-based kindergarten readiness program that prepares early learners as they enter elementary school, helping them build the foundation to be reading proficiently by 3rd grade. With the support of WITS volunteers, students practice emergent literacy skills such as letter name and sound recognition, book and print awareness, and early writing skills. Each site is led by a teacher from its respective school, allowing WITS to introduce students to classroom routines and relationships that support a smooth transition to kindergarten in the fall. ECSP mentors commit to volunteering one to four days a week, 9:00am-11:30am, for five weeks from early July to early August.

2021 Virtual ECSP information


STEAM at work

WITS on the Weekend (WoW) is a team-based reading and mentoring program that takes place for two hours on Saturday mornings from October to May. 3rd through 6th grade students meet their volunteer mentors at school to engage in team-building activities, recreational reading, and cooperative learning challenges focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) concepts. No previous STEAM experience is necessary. WoW volunteers commit to 16 select Saturdays from October-May, 10:00am-12:00pm.

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