Experience Corps

An Evidence-Based Practice


Founded in 1996, Experience Corps (EC) is a nonprofit organization that harnesses the human capitol of retired Americans to increase literacy rates in urban, low-income elementary schools while at the same time addressing the need for retired individuals to engage in social and cognitive behaviors. Following a successful trial in Baltimore, MD, EC has expanded to include 2,000 members helping 20,000 students in 19 cities around the United States. Volunteers undergo a 30-hour training course in which they are instructed in math and literacy tutoring, conflict resolution, and a number of other skills. Following the instructional course provided by EC, local elementary schools place the volunteers in a variety of roles, ranging from tutors to library assistants. EC focuses on improving elementary school reading due to the fact that closing the achievement gap in literacy is essential during the period between kindergarten and third grade. Federal grants, private donations, and awards fund EC.

Goal / Mission

The goal of Experience Corps is to improve the cognitive, physical, and psychological function of retired senior citizens while simultaneously employing their free time to help narrow the achievement gap in urban, low-income elementary schools

Results / Accomplishments

A number of academic studies have verified the efficacy of Experience Corps in both increasing literacy in elementary schools and stimulating mental and cognitive function in volunteers. In a randomized control study of the Baltimore Experience Corps program performed by the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, students in the Experience Corps program made significantly greater improvements over 4-8 months in grade specific reading skills and performance on the Woodcock Johnson Passage Comprehension assessment (p<.05) over the control group. In addition, a study performed by Johns Hopkins University found that volunteers in the Baltimore Experience Corps experienced significant improvement (p<.05) in cognitive function over a control group that was reflected in changes in brain activation patterns (as measured by fMRI). Furthermore, Experience Corps and its members have won numerous awards around the country, including one member who won the President's Service Award in 2006.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
401 9th Street NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 434-6400
Education / Childcare & Early Childhood Education
Education / Student Performance K-12
Health / Older Adults & Aging
Experience Corps
Date of publication
Date of implementation
Geographic Type
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Target Audience
Children, Elderly, Racial/Ethnic Minorities