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What Are Some Ways to Engage the Community in Early Grade Reading?

  • Collaborate with partners to convene community conversations focused on reading proficiently by third grade. Use the planning tools and templates in the Engagement Resources section, developed by the Harwood Institute and United Way Worldwide.  
  • Consider packaging the community conversations in an Education Report document like the United Way of San Diego County and use it as an outreach tool to opinion leaders, policy makers and employers (not just those in your workplace campaign).
  • Develop an action agenda for early grade reading. Give individuals and representatives from organizations that you have engaged in community conversations the opportunity to participate in the planning process.
  • Focus your Day of Action (June 21) or Day of Caring on literacy. Click here for tools and templates for literacy volunteer activities and events.
  • Use your workplace campaign and Campaign for the Common Good effort as opportunities to educate and inform employees at local businesses about the importance and impact of early grade reading. 
  • Encourage donors to also volunteer as readers and reading tutors in local child care centers and K-3 classrooms. After-school and summer programs may need literacy-focused volunteers as well. Your United Way can also help with the recruitment and placement of these volunteers, working with literacy organizations and funded agencies. Access United Way Worldwide’s guide for engaging volunteers to support early grade reading.  
  • Provide a venue for youth and adult community residents to share their personal stories about how reading matters to them and how it helped fuel their own growth and development and share these stories widely. Consider social media, online contests and other “high energy” engagement venues. 


Does your community host a “Community Read” effort? One Book, One Community is an initiative coordinated by the American Library Association to engage an entire community in reading the same book. Approach your library partners and brainstorm how to make the importance of reading a theme in the next one. Involve youth!  Click here for tips in planning a Community Read.
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