Did you know that young girls who have a mentor are 35 percent more likely to see college as a possibility?

Twenty TVA volunteers began a pilot program with Girls Inc. in January to mentor elementary age girls in the Bookworm Club, a Girls Inc. after-school program.

The Bookworm Club is a proven, successful after-school literacy program for first-, second- and third-graders that focuses on the five building blocks of literacy. Girls in Bookworm Club explore their world through literacy activities, including read alouds, storytelling, games, public speaking, reading, writing, theatre and creative arts.

“Before I sit with each girl, I always ask how her day went at school and if she learned anything new as an ice breaker,” said volunteer Shika Payne. “Seeing their faces as they talk about the day is amazing, not to mention it makes them feel more comfortable as they begin to read. I appreciate the opportunity Girls Inc. has provided to TVA in assisting in the Bookworm Program and hope that it continues to grow.”

Summer Elliott is manager of Volunteer Services and Resources for Girls Inc. of Chattanooga.

“Each year, Girls Inc. works with more than 100 volunteers that give of their time, energy and experience to help enrich the organization and our educational programs,”she said. “Volunteers make a huge difference by strengthening after-school programs, in-school programs and day camps, helping with special events, and supporting administrative needs.”

When large organizations like TVA rally around a cause, the community sees big impact. That’s why Smita Donthamsetty, on-site program manager at the Chattanooga Mentoring Collective, believes this is a great model that can be scaled to other companies and partner agencies.

“We sit at a unique intersection between the business and non-profit sectors,” Smita said. “Because of this, we’re able to facilitate partnerships like this and make sure children in Hamilton County have a caring adult they can rely on for support.”