For United Way Day of Action, Staples employee volunteers across the U.S. and in Canada will create more than 1,200 “literacy kits” to help boost early grade level reading as part of a long-term United Way goal to increase the high-school graduation rate. Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone. The good news is that all of us can help solve this problem.
Research has shown that children learn best when they are engaged and having fun. A “literacy kit” is comprised of a book and a collection of related objects, props and other items designed to make reading interactive and enjoyable for both the child and the adult who is reading with the child.
United Way and Staples are working together up in eleven cities to help advance early grade level reading through volunteering. Activities are taking place in Cambridge (Massachusetts); Orlando (Florida); Overland Park (Kansas); St. Louis (Missouri); Lincolnshire (Illinois); Seattle (Washington); Orange City (Iowa), Columbia (South Carolina); Dartmouth (Nova Scotia); Regina (Saskatchewan) and Burnaby (British Columbia).
With the contents provided by Staples, volunteers assemble and decorate each kit to include two books, a coloring book and crayons, a cinch bag to use on future trips to the library as well as materials with tips and information for how children can access learning resources over the summer. United Way also provides ideas and templates for volunteers to create props and include activity ideas to accompany the literacy kits. And, just to help get those creative juices flowing, United Way and Staples will recognize the city that produces the most creative kit.
While the literacy kits can be used year-round, it is especially important to make them available during the summer months, when reading outside of school can help prevent summer reading loss. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
Special thanks to United Ways that are leading Staples volunteers in the literacy kits project: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Heart of Florida United Way, United Way of Greater Kansas City, United Way of Greater St. Louis, United Way of Lake County, United Way of King County, United Way of Siouxland, United Way of the Midlands, United Way Halifax, United Way Regina and United Way Lower Mainland. And, hats off to United Ways throughout the U.S. and the world who mobilized volunteers on United Way Day of Action on June 21.
United Way Day of Action is a powerful way for United Ways to stimulate community action that advances our goals in education, income and health on the same day. Learn more about the importance of boosting early grade reading, and find opportunities to volunteer with United Way throughout the year.