Hundreds of Quad City residents joined United Way and local school districts earlier this year to support youth literacy by reading one-on-one every week with local students through an initiative called Read United QC. The community-wide awareness and action campaign helped over 570 students in pre-K through third grade over the spring and summer. Now United Way is looking for volunteers to help another 500 students develop the skills they need to succeed in school and life.

Read United volunteer registration is now open with weekly reading spots available in 26 schools in Scott and Rock Island counties starting October 24 through the end of the 2022-23 school year. To volunteer, click here.

“Earlier this year we saw a need unlike any other. Local studies conducted with our school districts showed an alarming drop in reading proficiency scores among our youngest students,” said Rene Gellerman, President & CEO of United Way Quad Cities. “With help from our superintendents, we developed our Read United initiative and asked our community for 500 volunteers to raise their hand to help. The response we got from businesses, nonprofits, organized labor and many, many caring friends and neighbors was overwhelmingly positive — exceeding our expectations and enabling us to help more students as a result.”

Early test scores have shown improvement since the program began. After Read United’s spring session, 92% of students who participated in the program improved their reading proficiency. Students reading on grade level by third grade are five times more likely to graduate from high school.

“If I know just two things about our community, it’s that we never back down from a challenge, and we always show up to help our kids when they need it,” Gellerman said. “A child’s ability to read unlocks their curiosity; it allows them to find their calling and chase their full potential. Youth literacy is linked fundamentally to the continued growth and economic vitality of our region. I am deeply proud of our community for continuing to take action, support our educators, and help provide opportunity to even more students.”

Read United pairs adult volunteers with kindergarten through third-grade students to read together for 30 minutes. The one-on-one reading sessions take place on weekdays during regular school hours and after school at select schools in Rock Island and Scott counties. All volunteer opportunities are in-person. Over 400 reading volunteers have been requested for the program by teachers at over 20 participating locations. United Way expects additional referrals of students who are struggling to read with a need for at least 500 volunteer readers.

Volunteers must be at least 18, pass a background check and complete a 30-minute training held virtually. To register, click here, click the “volunteer” button and choose a city to find options for the day, time and location that works best with your schedule. For more information, click here or contact United Way Quad Cities’ Community Impact Associate Traci Oberhaus at toberhaus@unitedwayqc.org or (563) 344-0331.