Philly Reading Coaches

PHILLY READING COACHES (PRC) is a program that combines early reading support, access to books, and community volunteers to boost reading skills for our city’s children.

The program works by pairing trained volunteers with young students – kindergarten through 3rd grade, and by providing fun and child-guided reading experiences that help build reading skills and motivation. Each child in the program also receives 25 free books to take home.

PRC is funded by the Office of Children and Families and implemented by Out-of-School Time Providers. To learn more about the OST initiative or to locate an OST program near you, visit

COMING SOON – PRC is expanding to additional locations beginning in October 2024.
New sites will be announced soon.

PRC is in search of both new and returning Philly Reading Coaches to empower and uplift our young readers starting in the Fall of 2024. By completing our intake form and gathering the necessary Documentation, you can become a valuable part of our program and help shape the future of our students. Act now and join us in making a difference!

Click here to learn more about other volunteer opportunities within community schools.

Required Documentation
Background Clearances: The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) requires individuals to obtain the following clearances to volunteer with children in our licensed Out-of-School Time Programs.

  • PA Child Abuse History Clearance
  • PA State Police Criminal History Clearance
  • FBI Criminal History Clearance/ten-year resident waiver
  • National Sex Offender Registry Verification

Click HERE to start.

Training: In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, Philly Reading Coaches complete the Safe Schools Mandated Reporter Training provided by Vector Solutions.

Click HERE to start.

Additional Documentation: The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), which licenses Out-of-School Time Programs, requires prospective volunteers to submit the following before the commencement of service:

  • Verification of age (example documents: ID, birth certificate, passport, etc.)
  • Verification of education beyond 8th grade (example documents: transcript, diploma, degree, report card, etc.)
  • Two non-family references attesting to the person’s suitability to work with children (Click HERE for an example letter)
  • Health assessment with a negative TB test (Click HERE for the form)

Get in the game! Become a Philly Reading Coach!

The Need

Children who can read well by 4th grade have a better chance for high school success. Right now, two out of three Philadelphia students are struggling to reach that crucial goal.

The Impact

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is simple – but the results are powerful:

  • Studies have shown significant improvement in students’ reading ability with just 60 minutes of one-on-one reading time each week over the course of a school year.
  • Children with 25 books in their home are more likely to complete two more years of school on average than kids with no books at home.
  • Reading comprehension and language skills may improve because children select from a range of books that both mirror and expand their world.
A Proven Model

Philly Reading Coaches is based on the SMART program, which has run statewide in Oregon for the past 26 years. To learn more, visit the SMART website and view their theory of change.

Learn More About Early Literacy & Out-of-School Time

Read the Research for Action reports on national best practices & Philadelphia’s local landscape in the Research & Analysis section of this website.

Become a Reading Coach!
No prior experience needed.

Sign up to volunteer
Sign up for orientation

Fill out the volunteer interest form and become a Philly Reading Coach!

* Please note: a child reader must be enrolled in a participating OST program to participate in PRC. Space is limited.

Program Resources

Contact Us!