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Racine County: Schools of Hope

In Racine County, Wisconsin, where the literacy gap was once a looming challenge, a change is taking place. United Way, identifying the need for early reading proficiency, initiated the Schools of Hope project. By third grade, reading skills are a powerful predictor of academic achievement, and this initiative aimed to give children the tools they needed to thrive.

United Way of Racine County (UWRC) in partnership with the Racine Unified School District, local businesses, and community members, came together to develop this transformative initiative. Schools of Hope has provided over 27,000 hours of tutoring to first, second, and third-grade students since 2012. In 2022 alone, dedicated tutors completed 54.5 hours of volunteer time for classrooms.

One of the many success stories is that of a Schools of Hope tutor, Barbara, and her student Dean. "I started tutoring Dean back in October. He didn’t want to read... He looked up at me with this question in his eyes, like can I keep reading? I said yes, yes, keep reading! Let’s find out what happens. To me, that felt great. That's success!" Barbara shared, encapsulating the initiative’s impact.

In a county where 18.9% of adults have low literacy and associated challenges such as higher unemployment (4.6%) and poverty rates, Schools of Hope has been more than just an education program. It’s a community-driven response to a significant social issue.

The positive impact of this intervention transcends the classroom, reaching into the lives of individuals and the community. It symbolizes what can be achieved when various stakeholders come together with a shared mission. The transformation seen in the children, like Dean, is a testament to United Way's broader commitment to health, education, and financial stability.

By fostering reading skills, Schools of Hope does more than enhance educational outcomes; it's opening doors for a brighter future for the children of Racine County. This approach aligns with United Way's vision of ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the opportunity to thrive.

In Racine County, the path to a thriving community has been paved with books, commitment, and a collaborative spirit. The joy of reading is now a shared experience, an enduring statement of what can be accomplished when we come together to uplift and empower one another.