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National Grant Expands Castor’s Classroom Companions Program

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A $100,000 grant from AmeriCorps will help place more grandparent volunteers in classrooms

Teachers and students at a local school are receiving an extra pair of helpful hands in the classroom thanks to a partnership between the City of Tampa and Seniors in Service.

The City recently received a $100,000 grant from AmeriCorps to expand the Castor’s Classroom Companions initiative. This additional funding will help place ten seniors, who serve as tutors and mentors to vulnerable students, inside of classrooms at Broward and Potter Elementary Schools.  

These classroom companions will spend up to 30 hours per week in the same classroom for the entire school year, providing consistent one-on-one and small group tutoring for students who may easily fall behind. Volunteers can listen to their stories, calm their anxiety, defuse their frustrations and offer the love they need. They are considered to be a consistent, trusted adult who the students can rely on for support. 

The funding provided by the AmeriCorps grant will include a stipend of $3.00 per hour for the classroom companions, as well as mileage to and from participating elementary schools, a meal allowance while volunteering and training throughout the year that includes best practices to teach literacy, social-emotional learning and how to use technology.
The City launched Castor’s Classroom Companions earlier this year at B. T. Washington Elementary School, where it continues to fund six grandparent volunteers through Seniors in Service.