United Way recruiting 300 volunteers to participate in ReadingPals program

United Way of Miami-Dade is recruiting 300 volunteers to become readers at more than 30 early learning centers throughout Miami-Dade County as part of its ReadingPals program.

A $116,000 private grant for each of the next three years from Carol Jenkins Barnett, chair and president of Publix Super Markets Charities, and Barney Barnett, Publix vice chair, is helping United Way make this program possible.

“We are so grateful for the extraordinary leadership and generosity of Carol and Barney Barnett,” said Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO of United Way of Miami-Dade. “They are passionate, caring leaders who are committed to helping the children of Florida achieve success in school and in life. They understand the importance of quality early education and that by investing in our children, they are investing in the future of Florida and our nation.”

United Way of Miami-Dade is one of 10 United Ways in Florida to receive a grant from the Barnetts who launched this threeyear initiative to connect volunteers with young children to help them on the road to literacy. Research shows that children who are reading on grade level by fourth grade have a better chance of graduating from high school. In Florida, more than one-third of third graders in public school cannot read at minimum levels of proficiency.

“We so strongly believe that the future of our state rests in the hands and minds of our youngest that we have personally contributed to the launching of ‘ReadingPals,’ an early literacy initiative in 10 Florida regions,” Carol Barnett said. “Our goal is to ensure that more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.”

United Way of Miami-Dade ReadingPals’ volunteers will commit to reading to students once a week through the end of May. They will be matched with pairs of children to help build vocabulary and other literacy skills by reading high quality books and engaging them in interactive learning. The program will offer training for participating teachers and volunteers, and will utilize the VPK assessment to identify intentional interventions for children.

Joining United Way in this ReadingPals initiative are local partners: The Children’s Movement of Florida, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, The Children’s Trust and the Early Learning Coalition.

For more information visit online at www.unitedwaymiami.org/volunteeroverview/volunteer-opportunities/readingpals or to volunteer with the ReadingPals program send email to readingpals@unitedwaymiami.org or call 305-646-7021.

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