United Way initiative targets reading proficiency


The United Way of Manatee County has launched its second year of ReadingPals, a program Barney and Carol Barnett, of the Barnett Early Literacy Initiative, fund.

United Way of Manatee County was selected as a recipient of an $85,000 grant that will bring together both state and local organizations.

“We so strongly believe 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 says. “Our goal is to ensure that more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.”

The United Way and its Women’s Leadership Initiative have partnered with the Manatee County School District and the Children’s Movement to bring ReadingPals to this community for a second year.

ReadingPals is a one-on-one, guided reading program for kindergartners housed in four of Manatee County’s Title I elementary schools: Ballard, Blackburn, Daughtrey and Rogers Garden. It will take place from September through May.

By September, United Way hopes to enlist 200 community volunteers to participate in the 25-week program, which matches each volunteer with two students per weekly session. Volunteers will dedicate a half-hour to reading with each student.

For more information, call 748-1313 or email sholmes@uwmc.net


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