What is the connection between reading at grade level by 3rd grade and graduating high school? Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. It is estimated that two-thirds of Georgia's third-graders are not reading at grade level. Children who can't read proficiently by 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of high school. As part of our efforts to disrupt the cycle of family poverty in Central Georgia, reading plays a key role.
A total of 663 students were served in 183 classrooms across 25 schools with Read United this year. The program is active in 23 elementary schools in Baldwin, Bibb, Houston, Peach, and Twiggs counties, as well as two middle schools in Bibb County. Additionally, over 3,000 books were distributed to students in grades 1st-6th participating in the program. This past year, 72% of 2nd and 3rd graders participating in Read United increased their reading scores by 50% or more. Progress is being made!
8275 tutoring hours were contributed by 469 volunteers through Read United this year! With two tutoring-based programs: AARP Foundation Experience Corps and Read2Succeed, our community volunteers at Read United are helping to close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, and break poverty cycles. Intergenerational tutors from the AARP Foundation Experience Corps work with struggling students over time. In addition to academic tutoring, the intergenerational relationship and mentoring are equally important. A volunteer who wishes to tutor students in reading for at least one hour a week is welcome to become a part of the Read2Succeed program. The goal of Read2Succeed is to work alongside teachers as a second layer of support for struggling students.
"UWCG focuses on fighting poverty; and poverty cannot be overcome without education. If you'd like to volunteer in a way that will absolutely change a child's life, I urge you to become a volunteer in our Read United program," said UWCG President & CEO George McCanless.
Over 4,000 K-3 students in Central Georgia have been supported by Read United since 2015. Read United is looking to expand to more schools and counties throughout Central Georgia in the future.