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Harris' Heroes: Advisory Board Company urges all 3,500 employees to volunteer in their communities

Advisory Board Company employees volunteer in more than 30 schools in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. (WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Hundreds of local children are the big winners, thanks to a local company's program that encourages its employees to volunteer in their communities.

In fact, nearly all 3,500 employees at The Advisory Board Company volunteer directly with youngsters or help area nonprofits.

Mary-Margaret McLeroy is a lawyer, but one lunch-hour a week she trades in her legal books for children's books and reads with first grader Skylah Procter at the School Without Walls at Francis Stevens in the District.

Amanda Schechter, who does event planning and internal communications, spends her lunch-hour reading with seven-year-old Robert Paris.

Both the students and volunteers enjoy the one-on-one time and see the benefits.

"If you don't know how to read, you're not gonna be in second grade," said Paris.

"His speed at reading has tremendously increased," Schechter said.

McLeroy added, "It's such a great break in my day to be able to come here and come to the school for an hour and read."

In another classroom, software engineer Aaron Smalls helps run a weekly robotics club for fourth and fifth grade students.

"Building stuff is the second of my favorite things actually," said 10-year-old Erica Bell-Morgan who enjoys coming to the club.

Another regular, 10-year-old Laura Codjia added, "it's kind of new because I never built a robot before."

"It gives us a chance to use the skills that we do every day to help kids, so I mean it's a great thing," Smalls said.

All the volunteers work for The Advisory Board Company which encourages employees, from entry level to executives, to "give back" to their communities.

CEO Robert Musslewhite says when you make an investment in youth, "you're going to inflect outcomes in higher education and ultimately employment. Even in some of these short interactions, you can made a real difference," added Musslewhite.

In all, employees volunteer in about 30 schools in DC, Virginia and Maryland. They also serve as coaches and help older students with college essays and job applications.

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