Welcome to ReadingPals, United Way's early literacy program for Marion County kindergarten students.  “Children can’t read to learn until they learn to read.”

ReadingPals History

In May, 2012 the Barnett Literacy grant was awarded to 10 Florida United Ways. The ReadingPals program was created in concert with the Women’s Leadership Council to mobilize volunteers to read to kindergarten students. In partnership with the Marion County Public School system, it was determined that students in the newly formed Title One program, The Academy would benefit most. The Academy was established in 15 schools all of which had 70% or more students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

In September, 2012 ReadingPals was launched with volunteers meeting with students for 30 minutes once a week. Upon completion of two sessions the student would take the “Book in a Bag” home with them to start their own private library. Each “Book in a Bag” contained information on a community resource for the family and a book with activities selected by a Title One Curriculum Specialist. 

In September, 2013 with a few changes to the program that included meeting with students twice a week for 30 minutes as it was determined that was best for the students. The “Book in a Bag” went home each week with a label in the back of the book with questions and answers that were correlated with what was being taught in the classroom. The community resource envelope continued to be sent home each week.

In August, 2015 the program changed to enhance its quality. This year only one student would be assigned to a ReadingPal versus two in the past years. Each student now has the undivided attention of the ReadingPal which decreases behavior challenges and increases the impact of the program.  Each student was also given a sturdy pend-a-flex folder to have their own portable library. They now would have a safe place to store their books and could easily take them anywhere they go.

How are we doing now?

  • During the 2014/2015 school year 248 students participated in the ReadingPals program.
  • These students were read to by 200 volunteers.
  • The overall academy standardized test scores indicated a growth of 11%.
  • Students who participated in the program from August to May received 25 curriculum books. This resulted in 8,928 books distributed.

Please join the ReadingPals team to provide positive reinforcement to a child while enhancing their skills for success!

  • There are 25 weeks during the school year with some months having only two weeks of sessions.
  • Just 30 minutes once or twice a week during the school day is all that it takes.
  • Volunteers read a pre-selected book to the student.
  • As an in-school volunteer you will be assigned to a targeted school of your choice.
  • Specialized training will be provided on a regular basis throughout the year.

Please call the United Way’s Literacy Manager to sign up as a ReadingPal Volunteer today!  352-732-9696 x 212 Just image the impact that you can make on the life of a child. 


Stay Informed

Our RSS News Feeds will keep you informed.