United Way sets plan to aid reading

A new early literacy initiative will include programs that will help more children meet Ohio’s third grade reading requirements, especially children from low- to moderate-income families.

Under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet reading targets.

Today, the United Way of Trumbull County will announce “Reading Great by 8,” which is set to begin this summer, thanks to funding from the Helene P. Kaighin and Nancy Van Fossan foundations.

“We know that better education is tied to better health and better income. Making sure our children are reading at third-grade level is an important step to strengthening our community,” said Ginny Pasha, president of United Way of Trumbull County.

Along with the initiative, United Way announced literacy kits and free books will be distributed to children at McGuffy PK-8 in Warren. The books will be available through a partnership with GFWC Ohio Warren Junior Women’s League and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Members of the GFWC and United Way also may read to the children.

More than a book giveaway, Pasha said the literacy kits will include additional material “that will help kids see that reading is fun.”

The upcoming programs – “ABC Reading Ready” and “Ready, Set, Go” – will help students in kindergarten through second grade and their families by providing tools and techniques on how to make children better readers.

Families participating in the ABC Reading Ready program will meet for two hours one day per week over four weeks. Half of the time during each session will be used to give parents tools and techniques to help strengthen their children’s reading skills, followed by a family craft session. A childcare provider will then work with children in related activities while parents participate in a book club.

Assisting the United Way with the ABC Reading Ready program are the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, Trumbull County Family & Children’s First Council, Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Warren Trumbull County Public Library.

Pasha said the ABC Reading Ready will be held in a location of TMHA’s choice.

The other program, Ready, Set, Go, will focus on children who are selected by the Warren school district at the end of the second grade. It will give them summer help in order to prepare them for the Third-Grade Reading Assessments in the fall. The program will run for two consecutive weeks during the summer with certified teachers providing reading support for the students. Partners include the Warren City School District and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

In order to gauge their success, Pasha said self-reports will be used for ABC Reading Ready and Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) scores will be examined for Ready, Set, Go.

“We hope to expand the program to include other school districts throughout Trumbull County,” Pasha said, adding that any requests for inclusion by other districts will be considered.