From Learning to Read to Reading to Learn

Students who don’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are four-times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers.

Local public schools face critical challenges in ensuring reading success for their students. In Philadelphia, just 33 percent of third grade students passed the 2017 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test in reading, compared to 61 percent of students statewide.

It’s just one reason why United Way engages the community to help ensure our children’s long-term success through the Early Grade Literacy program. Through the program, United Way helps students in elementary school become proficient readers by the end of third grade.

Turning the page on our region's literacy crisis

Our Work

Through our Early Grade Literacy program, we:

  • Provide young learners with easy access to a variety of books appropriate for their reading level, in their classroom and at home,
  • Advocate for the importance of reading to children on a regular basis outside school by offering family engagement activities like bi-lingual workshops and family events to enhance home-school partnerships,
  • Empower students to connect with caring adults who support, encourage and model positive reading practices, and
  • Increase the professional skills of educators through research-based literacy models, providing them with tools and resources like online tracking and assessment to help students improve their skills.


Kindergarten Teacher, Philadelphia School District

“United Way’s Early Grade Literacy program gives teachers and parents a shared language to speak about reading progress. By first grade, students are already developing their confidence in reading and their literacy skills, and parents are more involved and informed about how their child is learning how to read.”

Invest in our Region's Readers

Support through EITC

As a result of our Early Grade Literacy program, our United Way was named an Educational Improvement Organization (EIO) and is eligible to receive contributions through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Through our EIO status, we have been able to grow contributions over the past five years, helping us to expand programming to serve more children.

Is your organization interested in learning more about supporting United Way’s Early Grade Literacy program with your Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC)? Contact us to learn more.

Host a packing project

Children who don’t read during their summer vacation can lose up to three months of reading achievement. Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” affects students’ reading fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and more.

You can help fight the summer slide for more local students by packing summer literacy kits to keep kids learning and engaged all summer long. Contact us to set up a packing project for your organization.

Volunteer in your community

From volunteering with your local library to tutoring a student in your community, we each have the power to make a difference.

Visit our Volunteer Portal to search through our database of early grade reading volunteer opportunities!

Join Us