Guest blog post by volunteer academic mentor Tim Morris of American Student Assistance

Here at Boston Partners, fall is the season to gear up for the new school year and get volunteers back into classrooms.  For Power Lunch in particular, this means helping volunteers–new and veteran– feel prepared for reading with, engaging with, and providing support to their student match. We asked Tim Morris, a returning volunteer, to recount how he got ASA- a company that gives college students the tools needed to unlock their dreams- to begin serving students who sit in much smaller desks.

New_ASAThe 2014-15 school year marks the second year of participation by my company—American Student Assistance® (ASA)—in the Power Lunch program. ASA’s vision is for every student who wants a college degree to be able to receive it in a financially responsible way. Achieving this allows students to unlock their dreams.

Our mission and vision align perfectly with those of Boston Partners in Education and Power Lunch, which sparks enthusiasm for reading in kindergarten through third-grade students. Reading is an obvious key to success. If you can’t read, then you can’t write. Without these two complementary skills, people face a lifelong, uphill battle in their quest to attain the American Dream of leading a happy, successful life.

Last year, I brought Boston Partners’ and ASA’s senior staff together to discuss the benefits of participating in Power Lunch. I was shocked to learn that students who aren’t reading at grade level by grade three will likely remain behind grade level for all of their time in school. What an eye-opener!

I was quite taken aback by this disturbing fact. At first, I was somewhat intimidated by the awesome sense of responsibility that this knowledge engendered within me.

But then I realized that, as a Power Lunch participant, I’m not a reading teacher: I’m a mentor. I can only strive to do my best to be a positive, encouraging influence in the life of my mentee.

Tim and his student Aiden

Tim and his Power Lunch student Aidan at the Warren Prescott K-8 School in Charlestown

Once the program got going at Charlestown’s Warren-Prescott K-8 School last year, any residual fear I had just evaporated. My experience and that of my fellow mentors was the same: no matter what kind of mood we were in or what work obligations were on our minds when we arrived at the school, we all left with smiles on our faces. Our students were sweet, energetic, funny, and frank, and the 40 minutes we spent with them were always very rewarding.

As I field questions and address the concerns of fellow ASA associates who are interested in joining Power Lunch this year, my mind is flooded with hundreds of wonderful memories. I tell potential Power Lunch mentors to just relax, do their best, and enjoy the ride. It goes by very fast.

Looking for a way to make an impact outside of the office? Contact Ashley Lee to get your organization started as a Power Lunch company at 617.451.6145 or, and get ready to head back to school.