This after-school reading club helps emerging bilingual students

Over the past few years Jessica Grant Van Lankvelt, a literacy interventionist at Alicia Sanchez Elementary School, noticed many students who are emerging bilingual did not have opportunities to practice reading in English. Sometimes parents are literate in different languages or they work evening hours which makes them unavailable to support their student’s literacy during the week.

This can make it hard for these students to progress in their English literacy skills as quickly as their monolingual English peers.

Jessica Grant Van Lankvelt
Literacy Interventionist at Alicia Sanchez Elementary School

Jessica wanted to level the playing field and provide these students opportunities to grow as readers. She received an Academic Opportunity Fund grant from Impact on Education to start an after-school reading club to support these students. The grant funding allows the school to pay staff to run the program.

How does the reading club work?

17 emerging bilingual students in 1st through 3rd grades participate in the Reading Club program after school. Each week students practice reading and listening with program volunteers. Over 20 volunteers – both students from Peak to Peak Charter School and adults from the community – support the program.

Reading Club provides students with opportunities to practice reading in English. They also get to practice newly learned literacy skills with volunteers who can give immediate, corrective feedback. Volunteers also read books of the students’ choice to them, helping their oral language and vocabulary, which are necessary for reading comprehension. Both the acts of practicing reading and listening to proficient readers read aloud are important for growing strong readers.

I just love the energy of the students and watching how they gain competency over time. And I enjoy building relationships with them through reading, which is something I personally love to do.

Nancy L., Reading Club Volunteer

Empowering young students

At the end of the school year Jessica will be able to see the progress these students have made on their school assessments. But in just a few weeks they’ve already seen some students build stronger accuracy and fluency. “Students feel empowered and like they are part of a team,” she says. “And their parents have been very supportive and encouraged by the extra help given to their students.”

I have noticed that my child has made a lot of progress and she has more retention in her reading.

Parent of Reading Club participant at Alicia Sanchez Elementary

This weekly program allows struggling readers to experience the joy of books and learn about the world around them. Students also see how their practice with volunteers is helping to build their reading skills, building confidence in their reading.

Engaging students in learning 

Our Academic Opportunity Fund provides educators and schools with the resources they need to bridge the opportunity gap. 

We offered two rounds of funding during the 2023-24 school year and awarded $154,680 across 141 grants.

From tutoring and equipment to field trip fees and newcomer student support, these grants expand access to resources and opportunities for BVSD students. Supporters like you allow us to provide these impactful grants to educators across the district, making a difference in students’ lives. 

You can help by making a gift to support our work or becoming an Impact on Education volunteer and helping review grant applications like Jessica’s next year!


Impact on Education is an independent non-profit supporting the Boulder Valley School District. We depend on the support of our community to put our mission into action. Will you help us provide opportunities and resources to students across the Boulder Valley School District?

Four ways we’re driving change in BVSD classrooms

Over the years, we’ve catalyzed change in the Boulder Valley School District by piloting initiatives and accelerating innovation in classrooms and schools. Right now, we’re seeing four recent investments driving change for students.

Early dyslexia intervention

In 2019, BVSD was working to roll out a new phonics-based curriculum in elementary schools and begin screening Kindergarten students to identify those at risk for dyslexia, but they lacked the funds to quickly train all educators. Impact on Education, in partnership with Boulder Valley Kids Identified with Dyslexia (BVKID), stepped in to fund professional development and training for 46 BVSD interventionists and classroom educators.

The training took place in the summer of 2020 and meant that during the 2020-21 school year, every school in BVSD had at least one interventionist who was trained in the Orton Gillingham approach to better support students. In 2021, IOE also supplemented BVSD’s educator training, but we are pleased to share that this summer, BVSD made their biggest investment to date for this critical training opportunity by funding 85 elementary educators to participate in the training.

Helping students catch up on reading and math

Every student experienced disrupted learning in 2020 and 2021, and many now need extra support with their reading and math skills.

Last year, we partnered with BVSD to invest in the Really Great Reading curriculum to help students build foundation skills in reading, and students made wonderful progress:

To catch students up on math skills, we funded licenses for IXL Math at several BVSD schools during the 2021-22 school year. The original request came through our Academic Opportunity Fund and was quickly adopted across the district leading to impressive results:

Seeing the success of these investments, BVSD is now funding the Really Great Reading curriculum more broadly throughout the district and paying for IXL Math access for all middle school students for the 2022-23 school year.

Preparing students for their futures

Beginning in 2019, we have worked in partnership with BVSD and external experts to build a vision of how to better prepare students for their futures. BVSD’s new GradPlus initiative is a direct result of the $40,000 investment we made to move this work forward and ensure BVSD has a solid roadmap and implementation plan to launch for the 2022-23 school year. GradPlus is a game changer in how BVSD will prepare students for their future and will make it far easier for students to gain credentials, work experience and post-secondary credit towards degrees while still in high school.

Driving change in BVSD

Catalytic change is one of our core values and it’s something we strive to do wherever possible. By investing in new tools for learning we’re providing new opportunities for students of all ages to see success in school.


Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 30,000 students and 4,000 educators of the Boulder Valley School District.

Connect with Us

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Impact on Education
721 Front Street, Suite A
Louisville, CO 80027

Tax ID #84-0943046