Summer Reads

Summer Reads VISTA reads to children

Summer Reads

Host Summer Reads members

Does your summer school or community program serve low-income children entering grades K-5 who are reading below grade level? Host Summer Reads members during the summer as children's literacy mentors. 

Nonprofits, government agencies, and Tribal Nations in Minnesota are eligible to apply.


VISTA member reads to two children

New to Summer Reads? Watch the 25-minute pre-recorded Info Session first before applying. 

Contact Meghan Paul-Cook at or 651-251-9069 for questions. 

We are not currently accepting host site applications for Summer Reads. Host site applications will open in December 2021 for the 2022 program year.

What is AmeriCorps VISTA?

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers IService TAmerica) is a federal government national service program. It was started in 1965 as a domestic equivalent to the Peace Corps, for full-time volunteers to lead anti-poverty projects at nonprofits, grassroots organizations and public agencies. At the same time, AmeriCorps VISTA members build their own leadership, explore career paths, pay for college and become lifelong advocates for the communities they serve due to the power of their experience.

What do you mean by “literacy education”?
Summer Reads members serve in nonprofits, public agencies or Tribal Nations to work on reading, writing, oral language and/or digital communication skills with children entering grades K-5.

What are the Summer Reads members' schedules?

Summer Reads members serve full-time (average 40 hours per week) for 8 weeks during the summer, typically mid-June through early August.  Host sites must be able to provide a full-time service opportunity for the full 8 weeks (including time spent on planning, reporting, training, and supervision check-ins).

  • First week: Summer Reads AmeriCorps VISTA Member Orientation (mix of online coursework, live webinars, and meetings with site supervisors for site-specific orientation with host sites)
  • Most Fridays: half-day in-service trainings (webinars)
  • Last Friday: End of Service culminating event

What can Summer Reads VISTAs do/not do?

Summer Reads members can work on literacy practice in a variety of program contexts and subjects, from academic to enrichment-based, and from one-on-one sessions to large group activities. They bring literacy to life through many subjects, such as cooking, gardening, large motor recreation, homework help, tutoring, arts, drama, science experiments, and more. Summer Reads members may lead activities either in-person (with COVID-19 health and safety measures in place), through distance learning (synchronous or asynchronous), or a combination. They support the curriculum and program model of your site.

While at least 50% of member responsibilities must focus on children's literacy mentoring, you may additionally assign your Summer Reads members to work on other tasks in support of your programming and services, such as:

  • wrap-around basic needs support services for students and families (e.g., food support, referrals to public benefits and other community services)
  • parent education or family involvement
  • behind-the-scenes capacity-building projects that you propose 

A 5-minute video, featuring first-grader Savon at Keystone Community Services-West 7th Community Center, shows how fun, engaging and effective learning with Summer Reads can be.

What are my responsibilities as a host site?
You provide the vision and workplan for your members, orientation to your site, direct supervision and coaching of your members, and a small financial cost-share match.

Sites outside of the Twin Cities are also responsible for recruiting and selecting your Summer Reads members, with support from our staff, while Literacy Minnesota staff hires and matches Summer Reads members serving in the Twin Cities to metro area sites.

Your cost-share financial match: $500 per Summer Reads member.

Literacy Minnesota provides training and technical assistance to you and the members throughout the program. 

Host sites are typically awarded 1-2 Summer Reads members per site location.

Are Summer Reads members paid? What do they receive for their service?
Benefits for all AmeriCorps VISTAs include:

  • modest living allowance, set to the poverty rate of the county in which they serve
  • Education Award scholarship for future tuition or eligible federal student loan payments
  • service related travel reimbursement

Literacy Minnesota additionally provides our Summer Reads members:

  • weekly member trainings
  • an Employee Assistance Program
  • participation in the Transit Assistance Program (TAP) for subsidized rides on Metro Transit
  • housing assistance funds

View the Literacy Leadership 2020-21 and Summer Reads 2021 Info Sheet.


Please contact Meghan at or 651-251-9069.

Looking for info on how to serve? Become a Summer Reads member.

To learn more about National Service, visit