Early Grade Reading by Tara Panasewicz, CEO

Success in life begins with a quality education. It is critical to reach children early - even before they start school to ensure they are on target with their reading skills.  United Way of Kenosha County believes that education is the cornerstone of individual and community success, so we fight to find solutions for the children in our community.  Our goal is to provide support to our community through measurable and impactful programs that are proven to strengthen a child’s literacy and achievement.  The business, non-profit, and public sectors must act now, and we must act together as an army for our children.

Experts cite third grade as a decisive year for students and schools.   Through third grade, children learn to read.  From fourth grade on, they read to learn.  Research shows that third grade reading proficiency is a powerful predictor of later academic achievement.  A student who is not at least moderately successful in reading by the third grade is unlikely to graduate from high school.  Research has shown a strong link between higher literacy and future academic achievement, improved self-esteem and the ability to be a productive and involved member of society. When kids read, they can succeed. 

The Readers Are Leaders Tutoring Program, a United Way-led initiative in partnership with Kenosha Unified School District and Building Our Future, provides young children in grades kindergarten through third grade with tutors on a regular basis to increase reading achievement in the early grades.

Through this tutoring program, we recruit and train community volunteers who are then matched with children in the schools that are identified as needing additional help with reading.  The tutors and children work one-on-one for 30 minutes each week during the school year (October - May).

Tutoring sessions are individualized and based on the student's needs and will supplement the work they are doing in the classroom.
Since our program began in 2015, volunteers have given more than 2,783 hours to the students at McKinley Elementary School. 
For the 2018/2019 school year, United Way of Kenosha County is expanding the Readers Are Leaders Tutoring Program from one school, McKinley Elementary, to a total of four schools, McKinley Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Brass Elementary, and Forest Park Elementary.  

Our goal for this program will be to demonstrate detailed program outcomes which we will be able to report to the community and lead us to further expand to two additional schools in 2019/2020.