United Way’s innovative, 1:1 virtual volunteer reading program. Vello helps children learn to read proficiently by 4th grade through weekly guided reading sessions and by empowering teachers, parents and caregivers with new age easy-to-use literacy tools to support youth success.



One of the greatest challenges faced by local public schools is equipping students with the reading skills they need to succeed academically. In 2017, only 1/2 of Philadelphia third graders tested proficient in reading, compared to nearly 2/3 of students statewide.

Grade level reading is a key leading indicator of a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school – in fact, students who don’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are four-times more likely to drop out of high school than those who are proficient readers. Guided reading helps students develop reading proficiency, but all too often, teachers don’t have the time to do 1:1 reading sessions.


As part of United Way’s Early Grade Literacy programming, Vello pairs teams of professionals and other volunteers with classrooms to provide safe, digital guided reading support. Together, students and volunteers read e-books using simple screen sharing and audio. With computer and internet access, Volunteers can complete their weekly 30-minute guided reading sessions from anywhere, making it easy to give back without leaving their work space. Vello also provides students with 24/7 access to an extensive 50,000 book RAZ-Plus e-library for themselves and their family members, helping form valuable reading habits in and out of the classroom.

United Way’s vision is for every classroom in the region to have a team of volunteers committed to students’ success. Together with Read By 4th, the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and Office of Early Education, we are working to establish school partnerships with corporate partners and community members. Through funding through United Way’s Impact Fund for Early Grade Literacy, we will distribute thousands of books, promote literacy resources, and connect families in-need to programs designed to measurably and meaningfully reduce poverty in our region.






  • Together, donors and volunteers across our region invest over $4M in United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ to invest in providing high-quality Early Learning opportunities that help children to read by 4th grade.                                                        
  • Last year 27,616 students in grades K-3 improved their reading ability, increasing the number of students reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade – a key indicator in school success.
  • Recognized for innovative improvement of education and is eligible to receive contributions through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.


  • Nearly 30% of millennial volunteers say they would participate more often if there were easier ways to find opportunities and more flexibility.
  • There are professionals in our community who are ready and willing to raise their hands to make a difference – but barriers like commuting and hectic schedules can make it nearly impossible to volunteer. Vello makes it easy!                                                                                                                                          



Help provide a classroom with 24/7 access to a virtual library that students can access at home and give students the one-on-one guided reading support they need to help them improve their reading skills.

Vello Sponsors and Partners

Wells Fargo 
AmeriHealth Caritas
Greenberg Traurig
Women United

Community Partners
• Read By 4th
• Global Citizen
• School District of Philadelphia
• Main Line Chamber of Commerce
• VIPKid

Vello Schools
• Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary
• Henry A. Brown Elementary
• James G. Blaine Elementary
• John S. Jenks Elementary
• Kennedy C. Crossan Elementary
• John B. Kelly School
• Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary
• J.K. Gotwals Elementary (Norristown)

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