The Ready to Learn Program

The Center for Urban Education’s Ready to Learn program (RTL) is a two-year tutoring and mentoring initiative and empirical study that prepares and connects University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) college scholars with Pittsburgh University Preparatory School at Margaret Milliones (UPrep) middle and high school scholars to provide the UPrep students with experiences that support their academic progress in mathematics and English language arts, as well as social skill development. Pitt RTL mentors and UPrep scholars participate in social events and activities in and around the University of Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh area to serve the community and gain exposure to diverse and experiential engagements.

To effectively tutor and mentor UPrep students, the Pitt scholars must complete seminar-training sessions each semester to build five program competencies: 1) urban context, 2) pedagogy, 3) mentoring and tutoring (e.g., mathematics, English, financial literacy, life skills, and study skills), 4) Research (action research), and 5) arts and technology. In addition, RTL Milliones UPrep scholars must also gain knowledge in the following program competencies: 1) mathematics 2) English language arts, 2) arts and technology, 3) study skills, 4) life skills and financial literacy. 

As a capstone project, the RTL Pitt scholars conduct an action research project and, with their mentee's help, create an art-focused technological resource designed to further the academic and social progression of their UPrep mentee.


Program Objectives

Upon completion of this program, undergraduate mentors will be able to:

  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge of urban contexts.
  • Critically examine the social and cultural contexts of urban education, including race and socio-economic class.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and display behaviors of the professional aspects of tutoring and mentoring students including dispositions, reflective practice, and classroom observation.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to provide pedagogical supports in urban schools with high-needs and culturally diverse students.
  • Develop skills in observing teaching, learning, and socio-cultural contexts in K-12 classrooms. 
  • Participate in empirically-based research through the collection, analysis, and evaluation of data.
  • Collaboratively construct a technological tool for their high school mentees.


Spring/Fall Program Design: Curriculum & Competency Development

Tutoring and Mentoring – Undergraduate mentors work two days a week and go to one day class (e.g., math, English) during the PPS school day, then tutor after school from 2:45-4:30 p.m. In order for the Pitt mentors to effectively mentor and tutor UPrep students, Pitt undergraduate scholars also undergo seminar training sessions on select Friday mornings from 8-9:30 a.m. to build upon the five program competencies.

RTL Seminars – There are five program competencies taught by experts from the field. Prior to RTL seminar Pitt scholars read and view all readings and video and audio podcasts. Seminars utilize whole-class/small group/partner/individual activities and discussions.   

Weekly Journal Reflections – One-to-two-page summaries of tutoring and seminar experiences

Community/University/CUE Events – Four experiences which may include, but are not limited to attending Hill District Education Council meetings, CUE Brown Bag Lunch discussions, CUE fall and spring lectures, and lectures at the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems. 


RTL Summer Program

The purpose of the RTL Summer Academy is to combat summer learning loss in which students lose proficiency due to lack of academic engagement. Last year, the RTL summer academy was open to all RTL high school students and was held at the School of Education and the Falk School. In the summer program, there were ten high school scholars and five Pitt scholars. High school students had full access to all school resources at the Falk School. The RTL leadership team intentionally had the program on the University of Pittsburgh campus because we wanted the students to feel connected to the university.

In the Ready to Learn Summer Academy, students actively engaged in summer program activities that align with our high school program competencies. Some of these competencies are: 1) English Language Arts, 2) Arts and Technology, 3) Social Skills, and 4) College and Career. 

Summer employment is optional. We recruit five or more new students during the summer if our scholars are unavailable. The Ready to Learn Summer Academy operates from May through July. The program is in session Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


For more information about Ready to Learn, contact Dr. Abiola Farinde.