For 25 years, DARTS Learning Buddies Program has served Dakota County communities by connecting community members with elementary students to work together on classwork, share experiences, and learn from one another for 1-2 hours each week throughout the school year.

Learning Buddies has grown from a single school in 1997 to over 47 school partnerships in Dakota, Scott, and Ramsey Counties. This intergenerational program has served nearly 60,000 students and logged more than 100,000 volunteer hours. But students in your community still need your help.

Do you…

  • Have 1-2 hours a week?
  • Want to give back to your community?
  • Have interest in mentoring young people?
  • Want to connect with others while participating in ongoing training?
  • Live or work in the Dakota, Scott, Ramsey or Hennepin Counties?

Make a difference in the life of a struggling student. Consider becoming a Learning Buddy.



“It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. To see their love of reading and having one-on-one time with them is priceless!”

— Learning Buddies Volunteer


Story Time with DARTS Learning Buddies

With some schools still virtual, DARTS Learning Buddies has learned to take some story time online!

Jayshree has been a DARTS Learning Buddy for 8 years in an Apple Valley Elementary school. She has volunteered with multiple classes each week to support students with science and STEM learning. She has a background in engineering and enjoys sharing her skills and talents with students.

Now that some classrooms are closed, some Learning Buddies like Jayshree are connecting from a distance by reading stories online to classrooms throughout Dakota County.

We value and appreciate our volunteers and the work they do to support their community.

Learn how you can take part by calling 651-455-1560.

Learning Buddies in the News!

Learn more about the Learning Buddies program from this 2018 Star Tribune article: Problem Solvers: Erin Walloch’s Learning Buddies give kids a boost in school

Pen Pal Program


If traveling or time commitment is an issue, there is another way to get involved. Ask about our Pen Pal Program! 

Volunteer Pen Pals write letters to 2nd and 3rd graders from assigned classrooms, creating meaningful, intergenerational connections that benefit both the students and the volunteers. At the end of the year, the pen pals meet in-person at the end of the year.

Signup for this program is between June and September every year. Volunteers are matched with a student shortly after.

Thank you to our Generous Sponsors who make Learning Buddies and Pen Pals possible!

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