United Way Quad Cities hopes to help fill the COVID-related gaps in youth literacy by connecting hundreds of volunteers with students across the Quad Cities for weekly one-on-one reading sessions.
United Way has launched Read United QC, a community-wide awareness and action campaign to help 500 struggling readers (K-3) learn the skills they need to succeed in reading. school and in life. The initiative is in partnership with school districts in Rock Island and Scott counties.
“Education is the first step in bridging the opportunity gap,” Maria Ontiveros, corporate community liaison at Group O, said in a statement released Wednesday. “We are proud to partner with United Way Quad Cities to present this meaningful program to inspire young students to read, develop their vocabulary skills and spark their imaginations, helping to solidify the foundations for them to reach their full potential in school and in life.”
In recent assessments available since the start of the pandemic, local studies found that only 30% of third-graders are achieving grade-level performance. This number contrasts with the 61% of local third graders who were reading at the grade level before the pandemic.
“By engaging students in books and with reading volunteers, we can give them the opportunity to practice reading and develop literacy skills so they are more likely to complete their education and get jobs. better paid,” said Rene Gellerman, president and CEO of United Way. Quadruple cities.
Students who read at the grade level in third grade are five times more likely to graduate from high school. United Way said 30% of regional third-year students did not report their test scores for 2020-21, compared to just 7% who did not in 2018-19.
“That factor alone, the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade, has long-term implications for individuals and for our community,” Gellerman said. “For a student, youth literacy can lead to higher self-esteem, increased civic engagement, and a greater likelihood of accessing good jobs and health care – it opens up opportunities for success in life.”
How Read United Works
Read United works by pairing adult volunteers with K-3 students to read together for 30 minutes a week throughout the school year or summer.
One-on-one reading sessions will be held weekdays during regular school hours and after school at select schools and daycares in Rock Island and Scott Counties.
So far, at least 380 students have been referred to the program by teachers and health care providers at the 14 participating sites. Centraide expects that other students will have difficulty reading and will need 500 volunteer readers.
“A child’s horizon can be broadened by opening a book and reading to it,” said Marci Zogg, vice president of community impact at United Way Quad Cities. “Having students imagine themselves in books is one of the keys to early literacy because it allows children to see themselves as the heroes of their own story. When children fall in love with a book, they also fall in love with reading. They learn that they belong to the world and the world belongs to them.
Motivating children to read is an important factor in student success as it develops vocabulary, stimulates imagination and deepens children’s understanding of the world.
“In the schools that need it most, there are more children who need extra reading support coming through the door every morning than there are resources to support them effectively. We recognize that these schools and their teachers face the challenge of an achievement gap and a lack of resources,” Gellerman said.
“Changing the trajectory of a generation will require all of us – individuals, institutions and the community to prioritize education and line up to support our children and teachers. Education is the best route out of poverty and how people gain the skills and confidence to do so.
Now accepting volunteers
Participating sites include Rock Island, Davenport, Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley elementary schools and nonprofits such as Hand in Hand and Spring Forward Learning Center. More cities and locations may be added in the coming weeks.
Anyone can volunteer, as long as they are at least 18 years old, pass a background check and complete an hour of virtual training. Volunteer opportunities are available for in-person and virtual reading, although the greatest need is for in-person volunteers.
To register, visit www.unitedwayqc.org/readunitedqc and select a day, time and location that best suits your schedule. For more information, visit www.unitedwayqc.org or contact Amy Daniels, United Way Operations Assistant, with any questions at [email protected] or 563-344-0344.