Local agency lauded for making splash

For many years the United Way of Trumbull County had been a quiet part of the community. Too quiet.

But in the eight months since Ginny Pasha took over as director and some fresh leaders stepped up on the board of directors, the local agency has made a splash several times. The latest splash – this week’s ”Reading Great by 8” program – addresses a critical problem facing the county’s elementary students.

Reading Great by 8 is an early literacy initiative to help more children, especially those form low- to moderate-income families, meet Ohio’s third grade reading requirements and beyond.

Under the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet reading targets. According to fall test scores, about a third of Trumbull’s third-graders are not ready to enter fourth-grade reading.

Reading Great by 8, which is set to begin this summer, includes the programs ”ABC Reading Ready” and ”Ready, Set, Go” in kindergarten through second grade. These programs are designed to provide reading tools and techniques to students and their families.

Also, literacy kits and free books will be distributed to children at McGuffy PK-8 in Warren. The kits will include materials to help motivate children to read.

Many United Way partners are supporting Reading Great by 8. They include the Helene P. Kaighin and Nancy Van Fossan foundations, GFWC Ohio Warren Junior Women’s League, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, Trumbull County Family & Children’s First Council, the Warren City School District and the Warren Trumbull County Public Library.

The importance of programs like this cannot be understated. If we teach students to read, we give them the ability to accomplish almost anything. The third-grade reading scores exposed a serious deficiency. Many educators point out that if children are not reading by the third grade, it’s unlikely they will ever become regular, proficient readers. United Way of Trumbull County has embarked to correct the problem.

Trumbull County has some programs in existence to address literacy. It’s important for the United Way’s initiative to compliment these endeavors; we don’t need multiple programs but we need to get behind one that really works.