[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers.]

Marybeth Carty first became an avid supporter of Santa Barbara Partners in Education as a member of Team Carpinteria, which raised $800,000 to help sustain the Partners in Education Computers for Families program into perpetuity.

“The cause resonated with me,” Carty said. “And as a former education program coordinator for Carpinteria schools, I was frustrated by the achievement gap and saw the need for every student to have the same technology tools to bridge the digital divide. Fortunately, it was a message that people responded favorably to.”

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From there, Carty turned her attention to volunteering and working with students directly. She first began volunteering as a regular tutor with Partners in Education a few years ago at Canalino School, helping young elementary school students to improve their reading proficiency.

Carty’s passion to help others is contagious and she inspired her co-workers at Venoco Inc. to get involved, as well. She worked with Partners program manager Michelle Magnusson to initiate the first group of Tutor Teams, a model now being used by other local employers. With her assistance, math and reading Tutor Teams of Venoco employees have been assisting at Canalino School for the past three years on a regular weekly schedule.

“With this successful pilot, we are able to coordinate small teams of employees into ongoing and meaningful service with local students more quickly, and with the least impact to the business day,” Magnusson explained. “With each team consisting of a small group of rotating volunteers, busy employees only have to commit to one tutoring session per month.

“Marybeth Carty has been instrumental in the expansion of our programming, especially in Carpinteria. When I think of best practices in corporate volunteerism, I think of Marybeth’s leadership at Venoco.”

Partners in Education’s Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program, or VR&C, has revealed the importance of volunteerism to the health of public education and the community at large. To Carty and her fellow Venoco volunteers, who witness the excitement that students express over having these classroom visitors who want be part of their lives, volunteerism in schools opens people up to an experience that is both rewarding and refreshing.

“Corporate philanthropy is a core value at Venoco,” said Carty, the company’s community relations coordinator, “and we support education through our grant making as well as employee volunteerism (through the VR&C program).

“It’s a perfect fit for our company. Partners handles the logistics of placement schedules and is well aware of the areas of need. We just plug in volunteers, who are grateful for the opportunity to help out, and the ease in doing so! We’re all in this together, after all.”

Carty went on to say, “It’s important for the business community to be aware of the challenges schools face with dire budget cuts in the forecast for years ahead. Pooling the resources of the community can help backfill some of the needs, and possibly create solutions to an issue that affects us all.”

Partners in Education gives businesses and individuals the opportunity to make a personal investment, simply by sharing their time and energy with students. Professionals have a lot to offer their community through their knowledge and wealth of experience, and they are starting to realize it. Marybeth Carty is a prime example of someone in the business world who is taking a stake in public education and is leading her company in an effort to create positive change.

Venoco Inc. is a member of the Partners in Education President’s Council, a group of local businesses, organizations and individuals who support Partners in Education with contributions of at least $2,500. Any company or organization has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 25.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or mmagnusson@sbceo.org.

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

Partners in Education is a program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office and is the beneficiary of the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon, Aug. 26-28. Ben Romo, executive director of Partners in Education, will be competing in the triathlon. Click here to make an online donation.

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— Devin Urbany is a Noozhawk intern through the Santa Barbara Partners in Education internship program.