United Way of Miami-Dade launches Volunteer Reader Program to encourage the love of reading before kindergarten

Early literacy helps young children prepare for school and life

On Sept 1, United Way of Miami-Dade launched its Volunteer Reader Program to enhance literacy opportunities for young children and instill the love of reading in them, even before they can read for themselves. The pilot program consists of 45 volunteers that will continue to share an hour of story time each week through Dec. 15, with the same group of pre-school children. Over the course of the program, volunteers will have influenced nearly 600 children in 39 different pre-K classrooms throughout Miami-Dade.As part of the program, United Way offered a training session for the volunteer readers where they learned about age-appropriate books, tips for reading to young children and received a reader toolkit. With lessons learned from this pilot, United Way hopes to grow the program in stages over the next few years.

“We all have a stake in making sure that today’s children grow up to be productive citizens who give back to the community,” Maria Mas Blet, managing director of KR Financial Services and member of United Way Women’s Leadership Council, said. “A good education starts early and is the foundation for a child’s success in work and life. Children cannot read to learn if they haven’t learned to read!”

Research shows that children who learn to read well at an early age will not only read more independently, but also achieve more in math, social studies and science. They are also more likely to graduate from high school and pursue higher education. Investing in them pays off: the ROI includes higher graduation rates, better job skills, increased homeownership and less chance of criminal activities.

United Way of Miami-Dade joined a national United Way effort in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Corporate Mentoring Challenge. This past spring, United Way Worldwide pledged to work with local United Ways to recruit one million new readers, tutors and/or mentors over the next three years.

United Way encourages all adults to read to young children and encourage a lifetime love for learning. To learn more about the Volunteer Reader Program or for tips on how to read to children, please visit www.unitedwaymiami.org/ReadingPals.

To view pictures visit us on Facebook  or Flickr.