United Way Launches READ LEARN SUCCEED to Help Improve Reading Scores Locally

United Way launches Read Learn Succeed, a volunteer recruitment effort to help children acquire the ability to read proficiently.

United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) announced today the launch of READ LEARN SUCCEED, a collaborative volunteer recruitment effort to help children read proficiently, giving them basic skills to succeed in school and beyond.

UWCM’s effort is designed to recruit volunteer readers and direct them to several local organizations working with low-income children. Volunteers are asked to read to a child, or group of children, at the organization once a week for at least one hour. Alternately, a group of volunteers can commit to a recurring time allowing individual volunteers to rotate turns.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows the need for the effort. In 2011, 57 percent of third graders in Maryland could not read proficiently. An Annie E. Casey Foundation study noted that students who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade are less likely to succeed academically and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Poverty further impacts high school graduation rates; students who can’t read proficiently and have lived in poverty are almost three times more likely to not graduate from high school than students who haven’t lived in poverty.

"When it comes to reading, society should not allow for late-bloomers," said William A. Glover, chair of UWCM’s Howard County Community Partnership Board and Chief Information Officer for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "For students to succeed in school and beyond, they need to be proficient readers as early in their lives as possible." United Way of Central Maryland works to bring financial security, good health and self-sufficiency to central Marylanders facing poverty. The ability to read is an important step to self-sufficiency.

In the early planning, UWCM asked organizations serving low-income central Maryland children how UWCM could best help. The response was clear: mobilize much-needed volunteers to give children additional attention to acquire reading readiness skills.

Those organizations were invited to submit applications to become a featured volunteer opportunity. Green Head Start in Columbia and Ellicott City Head Start are participating in the first phase of the effort. UWCM may expand the effort as it recruits more volunteers.

"We aim to foster a love of reading in young children. Plus, reading aloud to them helps develop important skills," says Dana Gloor, a member of UWCM’s Women’s Leadership Council and chair of UWCM’s READ LEARN SUCCEED subcommittee. "To achieve academic success, we’d like students to become proficient readers by the time they enter fourth grade. Our effort will help put the building blocks in place for that to happen, and it is so easy to help." UWCM’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) is spearheading the volunteer recruitment drive for READ LEARN SUCCEED.

"Anyone who has ever captivated the attention of a young child with a book knows the rewards it holds for the reader and the child. I believe this makes READ LEARN SUCCEED such an appealing volunteer opportunity," said Natalie Dixon, who is leading this effort at UWCM.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for READ LEARN SUCCEED should visit uwcm.org/read to learn more or register for an opportunity.

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