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Social Justice

Two First Church Members Begin Tutoring Organization with Common Ground

Molly Shiffler and Kristi Gutierrez are two of six members of Common Ground who have initiated a new organization to teach reading to kindergartners through third graders in Milwaukee. The organization is called Forward Scholars.

Molly, a retired Cardinal Stritch reading professor, chose Book Buddies, a reading program with proven results, to the Forward Scholars team.  The program relies on volunteers to teach reading one-on-one to an assigned student twice a week during the school day over the course of the semester. Volunteers receive training and lesson plans tailored to their students.

Kristi joined First Church primarily because of its focus on social justice. Since retirement, she has been searching for a way to help make a positive difference in Milwaukee. She is impressed with the structure of the Book Buddies reading program and the positive results gained while using it in other cities like Milwaukee. And she was convinced that this program will make a positive impact after talking with someone who had volunteered in Madison. That woman explained that of all the programs with which she has volunteered, this one made the biggest difference.

If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about volunteering for Forward Scholars, contact Kristi Gutierrez at

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