United Way Awards Major Grants to Advance Grade Level Reading Proficiency in Northern Nevada

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United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra (UWNNS) has awarded funding to five programs to continue UWNNS’ focused work in early child development and learning, kindergarten readiness and early literacy, early grade success and strengthening families. This work supports UWNNS’ goal to have 3 out of 4 children reading proficiently at the conclusion of third grade, by the year 2020. Reading by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success, which are critical to our region’s vitality and economic success. The grants are effective for a two-year cycle that began July 1.

Funded recipients include one partnership, which was awarded $99,919, and is led by Sierra Nevada Journeys in partnership with Wells Family Resource Center and Northern Nevada Literacy Council. The partnership works to engage parents, increase home libraries and library cards, enhance summer learning, get children assessed as ready for kindergarten, increase literacy proficiency rates for children in early grades and reduce chronic absenteeism.

The Children’s Cabinet was selected to receive $69,000 for the first year of the cycle, and KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting was awarded $31,000. Both programs provide strong pre-kindergarten, literacy skills development and early literacy services to parents and children. These services are critical to getting children ready to start school, and on the way to reading success.

“We are excited to be working with these great partnerships and organizations, some for the first time,” said Michael Brazier, CEO and President of UWNNS. “In this upcoming two-year grant cycle, we look to build on the success of the past three years. Reading is definitely the cornerstone for all learning, and these programs will position our region’s children to become better learners and prepare them for life, work and continuous learning.”

All grantees’ work is aligned with the UWNNS-helmed Grade Level Reading Coalition, which has come together regionally to sustain the push for grade level reading proficiency. In leading this regional effort, UWNNS has provided over $100,000 in formal planning efforts and coalition management over this past year alone. This coalition represents a key strategy in making true, regional early reading proficiency a reality.

Nevada’s high school graduation rate ranks near the bottom in the nation. The cost to both the “drop-out” and the entire community is staggering. Statistics show students that do not graduate from high school are more likely to be unemployed, have a child as a teenager, and rely on government cash assistance, food stamps and housing assistance. There is a direct connection between third grade reading proficiency and likelihood of graduating from high school.

About United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra
UWNNS has successfully served northern Nevada for over 75 years. With a goal to have 3 out of 4 children in northern Nevada reading proficiently at the conclusion of third grade, UWNNS concentrates on four key strategies needed to achieve the goal: early development and learning, kindergarten readiness and early literacy, early grade success and strengthening families. For more information, call 775-322-8668 or visit www.uwnns.org.

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