Students talking and smiling


Mother and son hugging
Young lady smiling and holding a book in her hand

Most people understand that reading matters, but they may not realize that kids who don’t read well by the end of third grade are headed down a slippery slope.


United Way Worldwide public opinion research found that people didn’t see why third grade mattered more than other grades, until they understood that it’s a critical learning benchmark. The light bulb goes on when people hear that children are learning to read until third grade, after that they’re reading to learn. 


That’s one reason a communications effort is an important piece of any early grade reading effort. Take the time to educate the community before you begin to make the case for action. 

Sometimes people think this means a public awareness or public education effort which is certainly part of the mix, but doing just that is short-sighted with short-term impact. Your early grade reading coalition would be well advised to go deeper and devise a strategic communications strategy that evolves from public relations into engaging people from all segments of the community to take meaningful action that makes a difference on the issue.

Communications is not something to be done at the end via press conference. It’s part of engagement, creating individual and organizational relationships, mobilizing resources, aligning and executing on strategies and communicating results.


It involves making a public commitment to an issue. View this archived webinar in which mobilizing United Ways share how they made a public commitment to an education, income or health issue. After starting by engaging with the community, these United Ways were able to align their community around a cause, build public will and drive action on education, income or health issues.


Girl eating apple and smiling