Reading Corps

The Challenge

Students who are strong readers by the end of third grade are positioned to be strong learners for the rest of their lives. However, in the United States, more than half of students reach fourth grade without learning to read proficiently. Reading Corps, administered by United Ways of Iowa, recruits reading tutors to work with students in kindergarten through third grade in school districts across Iowa.

Tutor requirements make recruitment challenging, but it has become increasingly difficult during and after the pandemic. Reading Corps turned to de Novo to help develop a solution to recruit and place tutors throughout identified schools.

Our Approach

United Ways of Iowa had tried to recruit tutors with varying levels of success, but they had never been able to narrow their targeting to reach the ideal prospects. de Novo recommended a digital campaign, with specific targeting to reach those most likely to consider tutoring:

  • Recent graduates
  • Stay-at-home parents
  • Retirees

We created two campaigns focused on the aspects of the job that appealed most to those audiences: rewarding work, flexible schedules, benefits, and the chance to experience a career in education before committing.

The Work

We developed two campaigns with distinct and targeted content. 

Help Them Soar focused on the rewarding work of tutoring, highlighting the positive difference tutors make in a child’s life to set them up for success.

Chapter One played off the reading theme. Since we targeted people in a specific chapter of their lives (parenting, retirement, etc.), we encouraged them to make this time special by helping a child in this critical chapter in their life.

We also developed a campaign landing page which housed the videos we created and more information about the tutoring role. The landing page also served as a pathway to encourage people to submit a screening application.

The Results

The campaign was scheduled to run for five weeks. We paused all advertising after only three weeks due to the successful response. The client reduced the number of total applications but increased the amount of high-quality applicants, allowing them to hire without wasting time sorting through unqualified apps. As a result, they were able to place tutors in all available schools for the first time in recent history. The best part? The campaigns can be used year after year to aid in future recruitment, supporting student success for years to come.