United Way of Brevard
United Way works to combat Summer Reading Loss
As summer begins, United Way is working hard to minimize the loss of learning that occurs when young minds sit idle. Summer reading loss is very real. Studies show that children can lose one to three months of learning over the summer.
To combat the ‘summer slide’, United Way has launched three programs to help kids this summer – United Way’s Feed and Read program which provides nutrition, mentoring, and free books to low income children during the summer school break and a summer learning loss awareness campaign and free access to thousands of digital books on myON for all elementary school children in Brevard.
According to Rob Rains, United Way of Brevard President, “We are really seeing our partnerships and efforts in early grade reading take off. In fact, Brevard Public Schools recently announced that third-grade students in Brevard Public Schools showed significant improvement in reading proficiency. We are so proud of the schools, teachers and students working hard to make that happen. It’s proof that a community can come together and make real change.”
Summer Reading Loss Awareness Campaign
Brevard Public Schools and United Way have teamed up on an initiative to promote the importance of reading over the summer. Many parents are not even aware of the negative impact of summer learning loss. When we first began, only 179 students returned documentation that they read over the summer. That number jumped to 1,737 in 2015 and 3,484 for 2016.
Campaign elements included awareness brochures delivered to all VPK – 5th grade students that include simple activities to keep kids interested in reading as well as tips and resources for helping kids become readers. Plus we’ve added an incentive to help encourage reading over the summer. Kids at Brevard Public Schools who read the required number of books and turn in results to their school will earn an ice cream party. The campaign also includes a 10 week multi-media awareness campaign to include: radio, tv, facebook, billboards and print advertising.
Access to Thousands of Digital Books
Through a partnership with myON and Title 1, all elementary school students in Brevard have free access to thousands of e-books on myON.com for the second summer in a row. Students can simply go to myON.com and enter their school and use their 7 digit student number as the username and password! (United Way also produced magnets for students reminding them how to access myON.)
United Way’s Feed and Read Program
The United Way Feed and Read Program utilizes a network of community centers and churches to provide reading mentors for one-on-one and group reading to encourage summer reading. Each child will receive weekly back-pack meals and reading-level appropriate books to keep in their personal library. New this year, United Way will partner with local businesses to provide STEM training opportunities and dental education.
Last summer a total of 16,000 books were provided to the 3,600 participating children. To complement the Feed and Read effort, Project Hunger funds were used to purchase more than 15,000 back-pack meals that the neediest children received for at-home consumption. For a list of locations click here.
Another life changed thanks to you!
Colton is a vibrant, 22-year-old man, who suffers from a severe developmental disability that prevents him from communicating verbally and requires him to rely completely upon others for his personal care. Colton graduated from high school in 2015 at the age of 21, and enrolled that summer in Bridges, a United Way partner agency.
When Colton first enrolled at Bridges, he would not engage with his peers or Bridges staff. He spent nearly all day in his wheelchair, facing away from the group activities taking place. But the caring and persistent staff in his program got to know Colton and encouraged him to get out of his wheelchair and engage in activities. Four months after enrolling in the day program, Colton moved into a group home. As program staff continued to work with him, Colton became more and more outgoing.
Today, the young man who refused to get out of his wheelchair is now walking around the center with support, and sitting at tables with his peers, fully participating in group activities. He smiles all the time and is able to communicate his choices, readily responding to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. He is stronger and more independent every day. Colton’s quality of life has improved immeasurably thanks to the community support that makes programs like this possible.