WHO WE ARE: ACCELERATE NORTHFIELD is a collaboration among parents, community members and organizations dedicated to improving the academic performance of local students. In other words, we help transform students into LEARNING SUPERHEROES! In the years since first assisting students, ACCELERATE‘s reach has grown. Its volunteer tutors work with students primarily in NORTHFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT‘s three elementary schools.
WHAT WE DO: ACCELERATE NORTHFIELD’s job is to recruit community members to become volunteer tutors. No experience is necessary, except for a passion to help transform Northfield elementary students into LEARNING SUPERHEROES! Our tutors meet with students on an individual basis or in small groups. While most of our volunteers are students at St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, we are grateful to have a large representation of Northfield adults among our ranks. Tutors are asked to help out at least one hour a week.
WHY WE DO IT: The mission of ACCELERATE and its volunteers to work toward the success for ALL students, regardless of color, ethnicity, economic status, belief system or gender. We were established to assist Northfield schools in reducing Northfield’s achievement gap. The achievement gap is the differences in academic performance between groups of students. (CLICK HERE to read more about the achievement gap in Minnesota.)
HOW WERE WE FOUNDED: ACCELERATE — brainchild of longtime Northfield education advocates Fritz Bogott and Rachel Matney — was founded during the 2011-2012 school year. Relying on the partners like the Reads and Counts program at Carleton and St. Olaf colleges and from community tutors, ACCELERATE and its volunteers contributed more than 24,000 volunteer hours that first year. The program started with a three-prong educational philosophy: intensive one-one reading, reading support and enrichment challenge for high-achieving students. The following year, ACCELERATE began focusing on tutoring students at risk of falling into the achievement gap. Its efforts got a boost from a three-year VISTA grant, which provided funding for a staff member to help administer the program. In subsequent years, ACCELERATE tutors have annually contributed thousands of hours of volunteer tutoring. The program has also become a function of Northfield Public Schools. Partnering with Accelerate Northfield are the NORTHFIELD HEALTHY COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE, CARLETON COLLEGE, ST. OLAF COLLEGE and NORTHFIELD PROMISE.
Teachers request academic support volunteers through ACCELERATE NORTHFIELD and its MATCHING WEBSITE throughout the school year. The process usually begins in September.
If you are new to the district and wondering what ACCELERATE is all about, our mission is to help provide support for Northfield students who would benefit from group or one-on-one tutoring. Our job is to recruit community members (parents, college students, residents) and connect them to volunteer opportunities in our schools.
ACCELERATE connects academic support volunteers and opportunities through its MATCHING WEBSITE. The process is simple: teachers post opportunities on the website, then volunteers who successfully complete background checks pick through the list.
Historically, teachers populate the MATCHING WEBSITE with at least 200 opportunities each school year. Typically, between 50 and 60 percent of those tutor opportunities are filled, which is a high percentage compared to other volunteer efforts nationally.
To request volunteers, go to our matching website (https://www.acceleratenorthfield.org/matching/login.php) and enter the login information provided directly through ACCELERATE. Although you might not know which students would need help yet, it’s advised you schedule a tutoring spot now, rather than later. You can update or change your request later.
Just a reminder: Our volunteers provide academic support to our students. They should not be requested to help with other classroom tasks. If you know parents and others in our community who are interested in serving as academic support volunteers this school year, please direct them to ACCELERATE‘s website (www.acceleratenorthfield.com) to complete a volunteer questionnaire. All academic volunteers in the district should go through ACCELERATE to move through the background check process.
HOW TO ENTER A TUTOR REQUEST
Now that you are on the matching website, following these directions to matching a volunteer request:
Click on the OPPORTUNITIES tab at the top of the page.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the ADD button. You also can edit or delete requests using the appropriate buttons at the bottom of the page.
Enter the information when prompted.
Remember to make separate entries for each volunteer request you require. For instance, if you want a volunteer for Monday and Tuesday, enter a request for Monday and then another for Tuesday.
SAVE! SAVE! SAVE your work!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A REQUEST IS FILLED
When tutors sign up for requests, they are being instructed to contact teachers for information, particularly start date and expectations. Our goal is to have our volunteers ready to help our students on Day One of their opportunities.
Because of transportation issues for students coming from each campus, we urge teachers to be creative with scheduling. For instance:
Work with other teachers to create tutoring blocks so volunteers will be serving our students for two or three hours at a time, rather than popping in for an hour at a time.
Schedule a tutor to help out in a single classroom for a ½-day block of learning, rather than just one subject.
Our volunteers seek to help your students. Let’s provide them with opportunities to do that.
CLICK HERE for a pdf of instructions.
Click on the month you want to view:
NORTHFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS provide opportunities for community members who are interested in supporting the academic endeavors of our students.
There are a number of programs who currently are seeking volunteers in the school district:
- CLASSROOM TUTORING: Group and one-on-one tutoring opportunities are available at all of our schools: Bridgewater Elementary, Greenvale Park Elementary, Spring Creek Elementary, Northfield Middle School and Northfield High School.
- ONLINE TUTORING: Northfield’s virtual school, Portage Online.
- GREENVALE PARK COMMUNITY SCHOOL provides free, out-of-school time programming for students and families. CLICK HERE for more information.
- PLUS: PLUS offers afterschool and summer academic programs at the three elementary schools and Northfield Middle School.
- TORCH is a collaboration among members of the school district and community partners to address the issues of the achievement gap. Originally TORCH served Latino students, but because of our success, our programs are now available to all traditionally under-served students, including first-generation college students and low-income youth. CLICK HERE for more information.
Anyone interesting in helping any of these programs can fill out ACCELERATE’s online questionnaire by CLICKING HERE. Following a background check (which includes providing proof of COVID vaccination) with the school district, volunteers will be directed to the programs of their choice.
For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Michael Garlitz at email@example.com.