Media Advisory

01/11/2017, By Valley of the Sun United Way


Valley of the Sun United Way Launches Innovative
Online Tutoring Program With Nationwide Scope

WHAT: Local kickoff for national online tutoring program, developed by Phoenix-based Valley of the Sun United Way

WHO: 2nd grade students and volunteer tutors from several Valley companies

WHERE: Melvin E. Sine Elementary School, 4932 W. Myrtle Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301

WHEN: Tuesday, January 17 from 1 to 2 p.m.

VISUALS:  Students, volunteers and Vello equipment in a classroom setting. Volunteers, teachers and representatives from United Way will be available for interviews.

WHY:  Reading is the foundation for a child’s educational success, and students who struggle with reading in elementary school run a higher risk of not succeeding later in life. And there are many people in our community who want to help children learn — but are constrained by their work schedules and other obligations. 

HOW IT WORKS: Imagine this — an employee of a local company decides to volunteer to help a child learn to read. But instead of having to leave work and travel to a classroom, that person stays in her office, clicks a simple ‘conference-style’ Internet link, and is connected to an e-library for young readers. Across town, a second-grader in his classroom walks over to a computer kiosk, puts on a headset, and logs in to his custom e-library. On the other end of the headset is the volunteer, ready to help that student read.

BACKGROUND: Valley of the Sun United Way has developed an innovative new online tutoring program called Vello, which matches caring adult volunteers with students who’ll benefit from one-on-one reading time. Vello connects the volunteer (no matter where the volunteer may be) directly to the classroom in a safe online environment.

In Fall 2016 Vello underwent beta testing at two schools in the Roosevelt School District and one in Glendale Elementary School District. Vello schools are being matched with corporate volunteers from companies including University of Phoenix, Wells Fargo, US Bank, KPMG, Vanguard, Deloitte, US Bank and AAA.

Vello will launch through United Ways across the United States starting January 23 in Los Angeles; Brownsville, Texas; Boston; Cincinnati; the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois; with the goal of increasing access for students to tutoring during a critical time in their learning and development.

Five to six students are strategically selected by their teacher to receive ongoing tutoring twice a week through Vello.  The United Way team monitors the volunteer sessions to make sure the curriculum is being followed. The curriculum is provided in partnership with Learning A-To-Z on their RAZ Plus platform.

Phoenix Launch Date:  January 23, 2017; 13 classrooms

Launch of other cities: 
1. Quad Cities Area of Iowa and Illinois – January 30; 12 classrooms
2. Brownsville, TX – February 6; 3 classrooms
3. Cincinnati, OH – February 6; 2 classrooms
4. Boston, MA – February 13; 10 classrooms
5. Los Angeles, CA – March 1; 10 classrooms


Learning A-Z, a leader in modern standards-based programming, provides the heart of a Vello session.  Volunteers and student read together on RAZ Plus, which offers custom e-libraries for individual students, all tailored to their reading level and state standards.  Insight, leading technology supplier, makes it easy for each Vello classroom to receive a complete computer station that is secured and configured to allow access only to RAZ Plus. LogMeIn, a leader in conference call and virtual meeting software, provides the connections that allow volunteers the ability to connect to classrooms via a familiar ‘conference-style’ link.  Through shared screen/audio and premiere educational programming, Vello opens new worlds for participating classrooms.  

Valley of the Sun United Way partners with 700 businesses, 90,000 individual donors, 5,000 volunteers and many schools and non-profits to break the cycle of poverty for kids and families in Maricopa County.

Learning to read is an essential step.  Learn more about how Vello will help at

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