In collaboration with our community partners, United Way works to strengthen early childhood education and improve grade-level reading. Our existing birth to eight programming is known for improving reading scores, enhancing school readiness, and providing parents with information about their role in helping their children develop during the critical early years. How does this work contribute to our mission of disrupting family poverty?
As a result of receiving high-quality early education, children are more likely to read at grade level by third grade, leading to higher graduation rates, college attendance, and employment success, thus disrupting the cycle of generational poverty. Here's how we do it.
Our work begins at birth, and sometimes before! We work with families with children under five through our First Steps and Parents as Teachers programs. Families are served in their homes by Parent Educators who provide guidance, resources, and support for parents. The goal of our program is to assist families in understanding their children's developmental milestones and to provide guidance on how best to prepare their children for school.
The ability to read becomes the basis for a child's success in school. While our Read United program supports children in 1st - 6th grades, our main focus is on third grade reading. Why third grade reading? Because, from kindergarten to third grade, a child learns to read. When the child enters grade four, the child reads to learn. Did you know, 74% of students who fail to read proficiently by third grade fail in the later grades and are four times more likely to drop out before they finish high school. That's why our work supporting 663 students in 25 schools across five counties in Central Georgia is so important.
Our students are supported by 469 Read United volunteers who are working hard to close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, and break the cycle of poverty through two tutoring-based programs: Read2Succeed and AARP Foundation Experience Corps. There are more children than would benefit from these programs, so if you would be willing to donate an hour a week to positively change the trajectory of a child’s life click here to learn more.
We are proud to have AARP Foundation Experience Corps volunteers on our team. Volunteers age 50 and older spend up to two hours a week working with students one-on-one to improve their fluency. There is value in intergenerational connections. Mentoring and intergenerational relationships are as important as academic tutoring.
Recently, we invited representatives from AARP Foundation to Jeffersonville Elementary School in Twiggs County to observe AARP Foundation Experience Corps volunteers in action. Our conversation with Twiggs County Superintendent Mack Ballard and Jeffersonville Elementary School Principal Rise Jenkins centered around the importance of increasing volunteerism in rural areas. If you are interested in volunteering, click here to sign up!