Sight Word Busters

Reviewed by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

$3,729 raised by 6 donors

Sight Word Busters began operating in 2011 with eleven volunteers tutoring students in reading in four classrooms at Rock Creek Elementary School in Auburn. In 2022, the program grew to 350 volunteers working in 115 Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grade classrooms in 28 schools in Auburn, Lincoln, Rocklin, Roseville, Sacramento, Meadow Vista, Colfax, Newcastle, Alta/Dutch Flat, Foresthill, Grass Valley, San Jose, Lynchburg-VA and Clearwater-FL. The reason for the explosive growth is the program meets a fundamental education need -- helping young students learn to read -- and the program is relatively trouble free for schools and teachers to set up and implement. Sight Word Busters does not market its program and only operates in classrooms where it has been invited in by both the school principal and classroom teachers. Since its beginning, Sight Word Busters has been seen by teachers and school administrators as an effective means of bolstering the learning skills of their young students. Word has spread among teachers, administrators, and our volunteers and, as a result, every year of our operation we have been invited to begin the program in more schools and more classrooms.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Sight Word Busters has undergone a significant transformation. In 2020 the program was initially halted, but SWB leaders moved quickly to team up with school staff and technical experts to design and implement a new online service delivery program. In order to create a functional online system, SWB and the team needed to conduct research, acquire new computer software and applications and also acquire new hardware (e.g., Chromebooks, microphones, cameras) to successfully connect the classrooms with remote volunteers. SWB created and implemented a comprehensive new volunteer training program in 2020 to enable the volunteers to successfully navigate the new online tutoring system, which allows the remote volunteers to work directly with the students, in real time, using interactive screens.

The new system has required many of the volunteers to go outside of their comfort zones and overcome tech anxiety in order to learn the new system and operate it successfully. In 2020 42 volunteers successfully completed the training and resumed working one-on-one daily with the young readers. As classrooms once again opened their doors to in-person volunteers for the 2021-22 school year, many Buster volunteers returned to the classrooms. However, the online tutoring program is also continuing in several classrooms and volunteers now have the option to choose either system. As a result, SWB now has the capacity to reach students, schools and volunteers anywhere in the country.

As has been documented nationwide, the pandemic has resulted in significant learning loss for students as a whole. For the 2022-23 school year a larger than ever number of classroom teachers have requested the SWB program to assist them as they work diligently to make up the learning deficit. This year SWB has worked aggressively to solicit new volunteers in order to meet the growing demand. The need for additional volunteers has been partially met through an extension and enhancement of its Buster Buddies Program. Through this program, SWB recruits, trains and provides ongoing extra support for high school, college, and upper grade elementary school students who then provide the same tutoring services as the adult volunteers. The Buster Buddies program has, on the whole, worked extremely well, both to meet the tutoring need and to develop new leadership and community service skills among the school-age volunteer tutors.  

As of the end of the first semester of the 2022-23 school year, SWB is operating successfully with 350 trained volunteers assisting 115 classrooms in 28 schools. Additional classrooms have requested the program but have been placed on a waiting list until Sight Word Busters can provide the needed volunteers. 

The SWB program is self-contained. SWB produces its own workbooks, other classroom materials and training programs. The workbooks are provided to every student in the classrooms and the volunteers come with all needed materials and are fully trained to perform their duties. As a result, the classroom teachers receive the assistance without having to take time out of their busy days to train or supervise the volunteers. The volunteers come daily and take each child, one-by-one, to work on short drills that reinforce the teacher's instruction but are focused on the precise level of instruction needed by each student.

SWB Founder and Executive Director Linda LoBue is a veteran of 45 years' experience as an elementary school teacher, special education teacher, reading specialist, school principal, education consultant and author of multiple books on early literacy. She has worked closely with school principals, teachers, and school district administrators in our region to tailor the program to the specific needs of our schools.

Giving Activity


Local volunteers helping local students to become strong readers.


For 2024, the program is facing new challenges associated with continued growth and significant upgrades in volunteer support. Volunteer training has been expanded and a new volunteer mentor support program begun. Ongoing necessary costs include office rent, book printing, graphic design, classroom materials, pay for contract administration and volunteer support services, website maintenance, volunteers recruitment, insurance, audit, and other associated costs.

The program is continually seeking additional volunteers to assist the classrooms, serve as school volunteer coordinators, conduct volunteer training, and assist with materials inventory and organization.

The volunteer board of directors is essential for overseeing and directing the successful implementation of the program.

Subscription to a data management software program allows the organization to compile and organize voluminous data on volunteers, schools, and student achievement. Help is periodically needed to input and organize data. SWB has developed and is continuing to develop a series of videos to explain the program and train volunteers in classroom instruction techniques and use of the computer system. The SWB website and social media presence require ongoing maintenance. Implementation of the online Alternative Delivery System has required the acquisition of computer hardware (Chromebooks, cameras, headphones, etc.) to provide as loaners to volunteers and teachers lacking these needed implements in their homes and classrooms. Implementation of the ADS has also necessitated the acquisition of subscription to multiple computer programs/apps to operate the system. This new system will continue to be modified and refined as it is tested and used in the field.

Equity Statement

Sight Word Busters is an equal opportunity organization. We adhere to equal opportunity practices in hiring, contracting, training, volunteer support and the services that we provide. Our program is available to all schools and all of the students within the classrooms where we operate. As a result of our development of the online volunteer system, the volunteer opportunities have opened for more people, including more people with disabilities and other in-person volunteering challenges.

Organization Data


Organization name

Sight Word Busters

other names


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category


Operating Budget

$50,001 - $100,000

Organization Need

Funding: Program, Funding: Unrestricted, Volunteers, Board Members, Technology

Demographics Served

Youth & Children, General population

Local Counties Served

Placer, Sacramento

Equity Statement

Equity Statement


629 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 301
Auburn, CA 95603

Service areas

Lincoln, CA, US

Rocklin, CA, US

Auburn, CA, US

Roseville, CA, US

Sacramento, CA, US



Social Media