Ahmad-Rauf Hardy is a full-time volunteer in United Way for Greater Austin’s Literacy Coaching Project. He works directly with young children at Open Door Preschool to help bolster their literacy and math skills. Low-income children can be exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher income peers by the time they reach 3 years old and the Literacy Coaching Project aims to fill in the gap for students at child care centers with subsidized spaces for low-income children.
This is Ahmad’s first year as Literacy Coach, second year as an AmeriCorps member and he plans to continue making an impact for Austin children when this school year is over. United Way for Greater Austin could not provide such robust services to low-income families without the help and dedication of phenomenal AmeriCorps members like Ahmad.
- How much do you volunteer as an AmeriCorps member through UWATX’s Literacy Coaching Program?
I find myself on campus 40 hours a week through my AmeriCorps position, and I split that time between two Open Door Preschool facilities, the one at M-station, and Open Door East.
- What made you interested in starting to volunteer?
My sister is a teacher, and I had experience teaching in other programs with older students before this. I think it is important to give back to the community when possible, and I like to see kids start off on the right foot with quality educational child care.
- What is next for you when your time with Americorps is over?
I will be receiving a teaching certification through a new UWATX partnership focused on putting qualified teachers in early childhood education centers. I may even be able to stay in the preschools that I already spend time in now.
- Could you share a great memory with us from volunteering with United Way and our partner preschools?
For Halloween, I dressed up as Old MacDonald, and the kids loved it! I also enjoy putting on puppet shows for the students. They really get into it and I can tell that it helps them learn.
- Why do you think it is important for people to give back to their community through volunteering?
I think it is important to be informed about what is going on, and if more people have an awareness of needs that might not be easily seen, or needs that require a more invasive approach, they can be advocates to help meet those needs.
If you are interested in volunteering to support local child care centers that provide access to quality educational experiences like the UWATX Literacy Coaching Project, please consider joining us for the 2017 Spring Day of Caring! This multi-site volunteer event will take place on May 5 and 6 with more than 40 unique projects. We would love your help to have a huge collective impact!
United Way’s Success By 6 team is also looking for energetic, positive and playful individuals who are passionate about helping disadvantaged young children get an equitable start in life. We have several exciting opportunities for the 2017-2018 school year – visit https://www.unitedwayaustin.org/about/careers-at-uwatx/ for more information