About one third of public school students in Florida cannot read on grade level by the end of third grade. This milestone is a strong predictor of graduation rates as it ultimately translates to more than 60 percent of public school 10th graders struggling, unable to read at grade level.
Just an hour a week can make big difference for struggling children. That's why United Way of Central Florida’s Early Literacy Initiative is seeking 200 diverse volunteers interested in discovering hidden wonders. The initiative, sponsored by the Carol and Barney Barnett fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation, focuses on engaging, training and deploying volunteer “ReadingPals” to increase the number of students reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
In conjunction with local school districts, Early Learning Coalitions, Children’s Services Councils and The Children’s Movement of Florida, this initiative, which began in 2012 has expanded to 15 Florida communities, working with local United Ways.
Volunteers interested in becoming a ReadingPal will receive training and will be matched with kindergarten children across 14 area schools who can benefit from this focused reading time. Teaching experience is not required. (Research shows that male volunteers are especially effective with young children and that men of color are the ideal match for minority children.)
ReadingPals are asked to volunteer for one hour, one day a week using a curriculum designed by Polk County Schools. Activities compliment the core competencies four and five year old students are required to master. Under the supervision of classroom teachers and initiative trainers, ReadingPals will be asked to provide two 30-minute tutoring sessions weekly.
The ReadingPals early literacy initiative helps students establish a foundation for reading by improving vocabulary, listening skills, comprehension, and visual and auditory memory. By becoming a ReadingPal, you can change the life of a child - forever!
Watch this video for an overview of ReadingPals:
For more information, you may also email ReadingPals@uwcf.org or call 863-648-1500 x 278.