Frequently Asked Questions About EW!DC's Power Lunch Program

q: What are the goals of Power Lunch?
To encourage a child’s interest in reading, expand a child’s opportunities for success, and create opportunities for meaningful volunteer contributions. Specific examples on how all of this is done can be found in the Reading Mentor Handbook.
q: How do I know if I am seeing measurable results with my student?
EW!DC is not responsible for the academic success of students. Usually, however, student's reading skills improve by being a part of Power Lunch. The U.S. Department of Education sponsored an evaluation of this program, and the study found that children in Power Lunch, particularly those reading at the lowest reading levels, experienced statistically significant gains in academic performance and classroom behavior. Additional benefits include improved reading attitudes, enhanced self-esteem and increased library use. The goals of our mentoring program are to get students excited about books and reading and to build self-esteem and self-confidence. If you can help your student learn to love reading, then his or her teachers will have an easier time helping him or her learn how to read. You may also contact your School Coordinator or Program Coordinator to discuss your student’s development.
q: How are students selected for Power Lunch?
We encourage teachers to refer any child who might benefit from additional reading time and/or one-on-one relationships with a caring individual. Parents may also refer students for the program for these reasons as well. EW!DC is not a tutorial program, so students enter the program on different reading levels.
q: How can I connect with my student during the reading session?
There are several ways to connect with your student. Simple things like making sure you learn your student's name and pronounce it correctly, understanding your student in terms of her/his own background and values, and showing that you are interested in your student as a person will help your relationship develop over time. Contact your School Coordinator and refer to the Reading Mentor Handbook for more tips.


q: My student doesn't seem to be able to sit through the whole session. How can I make the whole time meaningful?

Split your session into three parts:

  • Spend time talking in the first few minutes: What happened in school this week? Review the book(s) you read last week. 
  • Reading/Reading related activities: Read and discuss current books. Remember not to read a book straight  through. Make sure to stop and ask questions (see the Mentor Handbook for ideas) to gauge your student’s comprehension of the book. After reading, you can use the program’s activity binder (full of crossword puzzles and word searches) or their resource books to keep your student’s interest.
  • Ending Session: Enter this week’s book in your log and discuss next week’s reading goals.
q: Does Power Lunch operate in inclement weather?
If schools are closed because of inclement weather, Power Lunch will also be canceled. For school closings, please refer to your school district’s website: District of Columbia; Arlington County, VA; or Montgomery County, MD. In the case of a one- or two-hour delay, some EW!DC programs may be canceled while others will remain open. You will receive a call or email if the program is canceled. If you are unsure about your program’s status, contact your School Coordinator or your Program Coordinator.
q: My job requires a lot of my time. Is it okay to miss several sessions?
One of the most important parts of Power Lunch is the confidence and self-esteem the weekly visits give the participating students. Students benefit most when their Reading Mentors are consistent in their attendance. Evaluations show that this consistency results in greater student interest in reading and learning. It is important, therefore, to be reliable and to maintain a regular schedule, committing to the same lunch hour every week until the end of the school year. Reading Mentors should notify School Coordinator of any absences as far in advance as possible. This will help ease any feelings of confusion for the student. If you have problems with regular attendance, we will work with you to identify another Reading Mentor with whom you can alternate reading sessions. If you are going to miss a session, please refer to the following Q & A.
q: I can't read with my student today. What should I do?
Please notify your School Coordinator at least one half hour before your reading session is to begin. Try to reschedule for another day during the week so you and your student won’t miss a week of reading.
q: I have a co-worker or friend who wants to read. Is it okay for them to substitute for me?
Each Reading Mentor must read with the same student each week. “Substitute mentoring” is not allowed, except for Mentors who alternate with a colleague. Power Lunch is about building one-on-one relationships between a student and a Mentor. If your co-worker or friend is interested in reading, we encourage them to fill out an application to be matched with another student.
q: What are the rules for Power Lunch?
  • Please make sure you always share a room with other reading pairs; you should never be alone with your student.
  • You should have no contact with your student outside of Power Lunch.
  • Game playing is not allowed (the focus should be on reading).
  • Giving your student gifts or food is not allowed.
  • Reading must be one-on-one. No group reading is allowed (except with two alternate mentors assigned to a student).

Violating these rules may jeopardize a Mentor’s participation in the program. Please refer to the Reading Mentor Handbook for more detailed explanations of the rules. For additional questions or concerns, contact your Program Coordinator.

q: Can I give my student a gift?
No,  gifts other than time, attention and friendship detract from the true purpose of the program: sharing and enjoying books. Bringing gifts or special foods also causes other students to feel left out and confused and puts pressure on other volunteers. If you give your student a gift, other students begin to expect gifts from their mentors. If you want to reward your student for an accomplishment or honor a birthday, we suggest that you give a book to the EW!DC library inscribed with the child’s name. Notes, cards and letters hand delivered at the school to your student, on the other hand, are always appropriate.
q: I am leaving my job soon. Can I continue to read with my student?
Yes! If your new office will continue to support your participation, you may finish out the school year with your student and continue reading with him or her until your student graduates. If your new employer is not a current Power Lunch partner of Everybody Wins! DC, we will ask you to put us in touch with the community outreach or human resources department at your new organization to discuss the partnership in detail. For additional details on how your organization can become partners, refer to “How to Become a Partner.” Please make sure to inform your School Coordinator or your Program Coordinator of your new position as soon as you’re aware of it.
q: I will not be able to finish out the year with my student. What do I do?

It is very important to terminate the relationship with your student properly. Here are some tips:


  • Set a specific date for your last meeting, and inform your student and the School Coordinator of this ahead of time.
  • Be honest, candid and supportive, regardless of the reason for the termination.
  • Talk about your thoughts and feelings for the student and your feelings about the termination. Encourage your student to do the same.
  • Be positive and supportive, especially about what the future may hold for your student.
  • If it seems appropriate, talk to the School Coordinator about a replacement Reading Mentor for your student.
  • Don’t make any promises you may not keep (for example, that you “will always keep in touch”).
q: Are there Everybody Wins! programs outside the Washington Metropolitan Area?

Yes! We have affiliates in 17 other states. For a list, go to Everybody Wins! USA’s list of program locations.




"Seeing her become more confident and her love of reading increase has been such a joy to watch."
"It's mostly fun to read and watch her become such a confident reader and learn to love reading as much as I do. She is one of my best friends."
"When an adult helps a child, it tells that child how special they are. We send a message to the child- you are important to me- that is powerful and undeniable."
"It's a fantastic program, and I think the mentors get as much, if not more, than the student. You meet wonderful kids and have lots of fun."
"When I read, I learn and grow-- you know, like Jack and the Beanstalk kind of growing and that's really big!"
"I wish Everybody Wins was everyday!"