HELPS Tutoring in

What is HELPS?

Helping Early Literacy With Practice Strategies (HELPS) is an evidence-based program proven to improve children’s reading fluency. The highly structured HELPS program can easily be used by any trained volunteer.

One of our partners, Read Charlotte, calculates that about 20%-25% of CMS third graders learn how to sound out individual words (phonics) but don’t read with enough speed or accuracy (fluency) to build their vocabulary or understand what they are reading.

We can help more Charlotte area students third graders become proficient readers with a targeted focus on reading fluency.

So if you are interested in volunteer tutoring opportunities in Charlotte, HELPS could be a great option for you!

During the 2020-2021 school year,
Charlotte Tutors:

Completed0tutoring hours
Delivered0tutoring sessions
Served0students at 13 CMS schools

"[The HELPS Program] is elegant in its simplicity. There are a lot of reading programs where if you look at what they’re trying to do, they are trying to address multiple skills at once. HELPS is focusing on one skill — fluency."

– Munro Richardson, Read Charlotte Executive Director

Volunteer Now

Step 1

Submit CMS Background Check

Visit the CMS Volunteers website to complete your background check.

Still waiting for your background check clearance? View our FAQ for more info.

Step 2

Complete HELPS Training

For New HELPS Tutors:
Register for an upcoming HELPS training.

For Returning 2021-2022 Tutors:
Complete your self-paced recertification training here.

You can still attend training if your background check is pending or not yet submitted.

Step 3

Submit Your Availability

Once you complete a New Tutor Training or the Online Returning Tutor Training, you will receive a Google Form in the post-training email to submit your availability for tutoring.

Your availability form will need to be submitted before you can be scheduled to begin tutoring

If you have questions about availability, please contact Kate Llewellyn by email at

Step 4

Sign Up for Tutoring 2-3 Students for 1 Hour/Week

Once your background check and training have been completed, we will identify a student for you to work with. At that point, someone from the Helps Education Fund team will reach out to you to confirm the availability you indicated on your Google Form.

Once you have been paired with a student, your schedule will be shared with you in a Google Sheet, that you will be able to access with student information. 

About HELPS in Charlotte

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), there are a large number of students who do not read proficiently. The 2018 end-of-year assessment of 3rd grade students found that only 45% of them scored at “College and Career Ready.”

Read Charlotte estimates that 20-25% of third graders in CMS learn to sound out individual words (phonics) but do not read with enough speed, accuracy, and expression (fluency) to understand what they are reading. Reading Fluency is the link between sounding out words and the ability to read and understand text, and is a critical skill that a child must learn to meet 3rd grade reading proficiency.

An analysis of CMS third graders in 2018 found a strong correlation between third grade end-of-year oral reading fluency scores and student performance on the North Carolina third grade end-of-grade (EOG) reading assessment.

Therefore, increasing the percentage of CMS students who have proficient text reading fluency will increase the percentage of CMS 3rd graders who meet proficiency standards as “College and Career Ready” by the end of 3rd grade.

Through collaborative partnerships with corporations, community agencies, universities, and schools, Helps Education Fund aims to build a pipeline of well-trained tutors and supported teachers to meet the literacy needs of elementary students in CMS’ most challenged schools.

Helps Education Fund continues as a strong collaborative partner with Read Charlotte and we share the goal of getting 80% of CMS 3rd graders reading on grade level by 2025.

But we can't do it without you. Sign up now to be a HELPS Tutor!


Why Our Tutors Love HELPS

  • Charlotte HELPS tutors work with the same 2-3 students for 1 hour each week.
  • HELPS tutors report witnessing visible progress in students reading.
  • One hour served by HELPS tutors per week gets students closer to reaching reading proficiency.

HELPS Charlotte Impact

During the 2019-2020 school year*:

0%of 3rd graders exceeded expected growth
0%of 2nd graders exceeded expected growth

*Results shown are through Middle of Year as HELPS tutoring ended prematurely in March 2020 due to COVID-19.


  • The HELPS (Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies) reading fluency intervention is specifically designed to improve students’ text reading fluency.
  • HELPS has over 10 years of published research supporting its effectiveness in increasing students' reading proficiency and has been found to be one of the most effective, feasible, and affordable programs for ensuring that children will succeed in reading.
  • In the 2016 Educator’s Practice Guide for Early Reading Instruction, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, HELPS was summarized as one of only a small number of reading programs that significantly improved children’s word reading, oral reading fluency, and reading comprehension.

If you are looking for tutoring opportunities and positions in Charlotte, become a HELPS tutor today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started