United Way has been on a tremendous journey with the community. We have had the privilege to work with community members throughout Berks County to identify an important goal we can all rally around to create meaningful change.
Our exploration has pointed us to a goal of helping our children read proficiently by the end of third grade. Reading proficiency is a leading indicator of long-term academic and life success. We know if we all work together, we can support our children’s success by helping them to be good readers by the end of third grade.
The community has embraced the new initiative, Ready.Set. READ!, which brings together schools, businesses, organizations and individuals to improve early grade reading success. Currently, more than 25% of local third-graders are reading below grade level. The goal of Ready.Set.READ! is to have 90% of third-graders in Berks County reading on grade level by 2023, as measured by the third grade PSSA exam. Our plan will:
mobilize the community to take action to improve early grade reading success
A key component of this work is a volunteer tutoring program, which is now in place in 11 elementary schools in urban, suburban and rural school districts with nearly 90 volunteers working with more than 100 second-graders to provide supplemental reading instruction. College students, retirees, corporate employees and community members are serving as tutors.
Ready.Set.READ! offers an opportunity for everyone to be involved to help our children be successful readers by the end of third grade. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities for involvement. You can learn more by visiting www.readysetreadberks.org. By visiting the Ready.Set.READ! website, you can sign up to receive monthly updates, as well as complete a volunteer interest form when visiting the website.
Stay tuned for more details as this work progresses.
During this holiday season as we enjoy family and friends and give thanks for our many blessings, we extend our gratitude to each of you for your generosity and caring spirit. We are so fortunate to live in a community filled with individuals, businesses and organizations recognizing the importance of working together to build a stronger community for all of us.
Berks County is a community where people help one another. This was demonstrated time and time again throughout 2012…. when more than 350 volunteers participated in Day of Caring activities, when thousands of people banded together in support of the annual campaign and raised more than $9.2 million to help meet community needs and ensure crucial programs remain in place for those in need and when partners collaborated to launch Ready. Set. Read! (visit www.ReadySetReadBerks.org to learn more) to help boost early grade reading proficiency.
Your continued support remains at the heart of advancing United Way’s work, helping more than 100,000 local people and creating lasting change in basic needs, education, health and financial stability.
With deep appreciation for all you do, we extend our very best wishes to you and your family for a healthy and happy holiday season.
For nearly 90 years, United Way has improved lives and tackled key community issues. Much has changed during the past nine decades; one thing that has remained consistent is the ongoing commitment of Berks Countians to strengthen our community.
We continue to partner with many great organizations to advance the work within our focus areas of education, income, health and safety net services. At the same time, we are excited to collaborate with the community on efforts centered on improving early grade reading proficiency. This work is fundamental to helping children achieve greater academic and long-term success. To learn more about these efforts and to become involved, sign-up for email alerts. We plan to share updates about once a month as more plans and details are developed.
As we launch the 2012 Campaign this month, I am heartened by the continued support of donors, businesses, volunteers and other valued partners. It is the collective work and commitment of many that allows United Way to invest in programs and strategies designed to improve lives and create community change.
Join us at our Kick-Off event on Wednesday, September 12 at FirstEnergy Stadium where you will have the opportunity to meet Scott and JoAnn Gruber, 2012 Campaign Co-Chairs, and our Loaned Campaign Specialist (LCS) group, consisting of 21 enthusiastic individuals supported by 10 very generous organizations. We are also looking forward to our annual Day of Caring when individuals and employee teams help with a variety of community projects. Currently, close to 300 employees are participating, along with many organizations supporting our Stuff the Bus school supply collection drive and Page it Forward book collection drive to benefit young readers. We ask for your ongoing support in achieving campaign success, which allows us to help local people live stronger lives. Thanks to your generosity, we help more than 100,000 people each year. On behalf of all of those individuals receiving help, thank you for the time you dedicate to volunteer activities and for your generous contributions to the annual campaign.
Thank you for inspiring hope and creating better opportunities.
"Teamwork multiplies success."
This quote (author unknown) could have originally been stated in reference to United Way, our work and our accomplishments. Partnerships and teamwork are integral to our success, and ultimately success within our community.
United Way partners with those sharing our view that the way to improve lives is by mobilizing the caring power of community.
We work closely with our 34 agency partners to tackle crucial issues in the areas of education, income, health and safety net services. Our campaign partners and sponsors provide generous support to help us work towards campaign success.
We are grateful to the R-Phils for hosting the All-Star Hitting Challenge and Home Run Derby on July 10th as an exciting and unique event benefitting United Way. We invite you to be a part of the fun and enjoy this special evening. A limited supply of tickets are still available, so we encourage you to reserve your tickets at www.uwberks.org.
And, of course, our donors and volunteers are very special partners that demonstrate a continued commitment to advance our mission. Berks Countains recognize that we can accomplish more united that we can alone.
The long-term commitment of individuals and organizations supporting United Way is essential to addressing key issues, such as helping children achieve academic success, promoting greater financial stability and improving people’s health. Thank you for sharing your LIVE UNITED spirit!
United Way is privileged to work with dedicated partners and supporters. At the recent United Way Annual Dinner, generously sponsored by Susquehanna Bank and UGI, we were proud to recognize and thank our valued donors, volunteers and supporters for their continued commitment to making a difference in our community.
We were especially pleased to honor a special volunteer, Bruce Smith from National Penn. Bruce received the 2012 Doran Award, the highest level of individual volunteer recognition. He has served in a variety of capacities during the past two decades, and we extend our gratitude for the leadership and commitment he shares with United Way and our community.
As United Way continues to tackle issues in all of our focus areas, we are excited to launch a new community education initiative focused on early grade reading success. Through a community survey drawing nearly 1,600 respondents, engaging 275 Community Conversation participants and by interviewing education, business and community leaders, this issue emerged as an area to collectively tackle.
Third grade reading ability is a leading indicator of long-term educational and life success. National and local research and data indicate this is an important issue for Berks County and a community concern for all. We know that children who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school and 13 times more likely to drop out if they are also living in poverty. Based on 2011 local PSSA scores, nearly a quarter of Berks County 3rd graders were not reading proficiently. Out of the 61 local public elementary schools, 20 had less than 80% of students performing at proficient or above reading on the PSSAs. These schools fall in urban, suburban and rural areas of the county.
United Way will serve as an anchor organization to mobilize resources and volunteers. Currently, we are forming a Leadership Council to help drive the initiative. Within the next few months, we will develop a short-term action plan and then identify long-term goals and measurement tools, as well as incorporate best practices. We will soon share more detail about the initiative, as well as information about how everyone can l be a part of helping young children learn and read with success. Varied volunteer and engagement opportunities will be offered. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t yet connect with United Way through Facebook, now is the perfect time to do so and stay up-to-date on United Way’s work.
One of United Way’s strengths is centered on our partnerships and relationships that provide leadership to our community and develop important programs and initiatives to create positive change.
United Way is again pleased to collaborate with other Berks $ In Your Pocket Coalition members to announce FREE tax preparation services for income-qualified households. The Berks $ In Your Pocket Coalition helps eligible households gain access to the tax credits and refunds they’re due. Trained volunteers provide the services at varied sites located throughout the community through April 15th. Please click here to view information on details, locations and hours. Evening and weekend appointments are available at several sites and bi-lingual services are available at some locations as well.
We’re pleased to share for this year’s tax season; more than 220 federal tax returns have been completed. And, over $289,000 in refunds have been received, with the average client refund at $1,832. This is exciting news, as working people are receiving the refunds they are due and gaining improved financial stability.
In 2011, the program helped close to 3,800 eligible households, with more than $3 million refunded.
These efforts help local families make ends meet, boost our local economy and improve economic independence. United, we’re creating a measurable impact and building a better Berks County!
As we welcome the start of a new year, United Way shares best wishes for happiness and health and extends gratitude to each of you, along with all of our donors, partners and volunteers supporting our work. Together, you help tackle issues around our focus areas of education, income, health and safety net services. Thanks to your commitment, we achieved a remarkable campaign in 2011 by raising more than $9 million in support of vital health and human services. We are proud to work with so many caring individuals and organizations.
Because YOU cared enough to give, struggling individuals and families in Berks County have opportunities to live stronger lives. We all recognize our community faces significant challenges, and we are heartened to know you and many others understand the importance of working together to improve lives by supporting essential programs. Every community needs a strong network of health and human services, which makes for a safer and healthier place for all of us and contributes to our community’s quality of life.
Future positive results around education, youth development, financial stability and other key issues can be achieved by continuing to work together. We know Berks Countians have a proud tradition of helping others and inspiring hope. United, we will continue to make a difference in 2012 and help shape our community’s future.
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