School Programs

See how Matthew 25 works with Cedar Rapids schools to teach and empower students through Book Buddies and School Garden programs.


Book Buddies

First-graders build strong reading skills through Book Buddies, a partnership between Matthew 25 and two Cedar Rapids elementary schools. At the beginning of the school year, teachers identify students who would benefit from one-on-one reading time with a caring adult mentor. Adults and students meet once or twice a week during school hours to read together.

By the end of the school year, 89 percent of kids who participate in Book Buddies are at or above a first-grade reading level.

“Reading is everything. It is what empowers these children to succeed in life.” – Book Buddy volunteer

School Partners

Book Buddies serves about 15 to 20 kids at Taylor and Cleveland elementary schools.


Volunteer Requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a Book Buddy, you’ll need to:

  • Commit to being a mentor for a full academic year
  • Complete our volunteer application and pass a background check
  • Volunteer for 45 minutes once or twice per week

Book Donations

Support Book Buddies by donating new or gently used books to Matthew 25. Books should be at a kindergarten or first-grade reading level. Many children’s books identify their reading level on the back cover. Learn about reading levels or see GreatSchools’ list of recommended books by grade.


School Gardens

Students learn about agriculture, healthful eating, teamwork, and more through onsite school gardens.  Through our school garden program, elementary and middle students:

  • Learn about growing seasons
  • Learn about healthful eating
  • Make nutritious snacks
  • Design and plan gardens
  • Plant and grow vegetables
  • Weed the garden
  • Compost


School Partners

Matthew 25 partners with the Cedar Rapids Community School District to support school gardens throughout the district. Three levels of support are provided:

  • Technical assistance visioning and implementing school gardens
  • Intensive running of all aspects of on-site school gardens, including  the integration of school gardens into curriculum
  • On-site visits, newsletters and bi-annual gatherings to support schools at all stages of school garden development

If you’re interested in being involved, contact Matt at