Pacific Lutheran University America Reads is a program aimed at improving childhood literacy. PLU students work in six area elementary schools as part of the schools’ reading programs.

America Reads logoAmerica Reads was a grassroots national reading campaign enacted under President Clinton that encouraged all citizens to get involved in improving literacy across the country by helping children learn to read. While President Bush initiated Reading First, a new literacy campaign under No Child Left Behind that focuses primarily on school initiatives, he continued to support the Federal Community Work Study requirement.

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Under that policy, as of July 1, 2000 every college and university receiving Federal Work-Study funding is required to have a literacy tutoring program and to use seven percent of the funds towards community service.

According to the President’s National Service Plan 2009, President Obama raised the service threshold to twenty-five percent so that more students could afford to engage in public service. This has helped more than 200,000 college students a year complete part-time public service while they are in school. These are the funds that continue to support PLU’s efforts towards improving childhood literacy in the surrounding Parkland-Spanaway-Tacoma community.  Approximately forty PLU students serve as America Reads tutors and dedicate over 1800 hours of tutoring to our local elementary schools every year.

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America Reads tutors work in the following elementary schools:

Bethel School District

Franklin Pierce School District

Tacoma School District

After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) Mentors


Big Buddies students

… is an after school program that matches PLU students with a student from James Sales Elementary. The PLU mentors meet with their “Little Buddies” on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the school to do homework and play games in a supportive team environment.

The After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) at James Sales Elementary in Tacoma, Washington is sponsored and managed by the Center for Community Engagement and Service at Pacific Lutheran University in partnership with Tacoma Public Schools and James Sales Elementary.

ASEP’s goal is to provide elementary school students with adult mentors and a structured after school program in order to facilitate both the academic and socio-developmental success of the Little Buddies in our program. Mentors are PLU students whose pay is funded through PLU’s Federal Work Study program. As part of their role, mentors help students with their homework, providing assistance in both literacy and math. They also provide a positive adult role model for the students, and the program itself provides a structured after-school time period where students are engaged in constructive, positive activities. Mentors are assigned to one student, and while the program takes place in a group setting, the time mentors spend with their students is focused one-on-one. This time provides crucial supplemental support to students who may not otherwise receive it.

For more information about our Federal Community Service Work Study Programs, please contact the Program Specialist, Kristin Menson at or call 253-535-7173.