News

School readiness book teaches young readers about colors and shapes with hints of self-worth and diversity

Author Tom Wartowski reads You are like an Acorn

Local author Tom Wartowski reads his book, You are like an Acorn, to pre-k students at City of Rockford Head Start Fairgrounds site.

(Rockford, IL - 10/06/2016) – This month, over 4,000 pre-k students will receive You are like an Acorn / Tú eres como una bellota as part of October's book title for Success By 6® Page Turner Reading Program. The book is part of United Way's school readiness focus that helps children birth to age 6 learn, grow, and enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Local author Tom Wartowski along with illustrator Jill Calvagna introduced their book to pre-k students at the City of Rockford Head Start Fairgrounds site.

Children will enjoy reading You are like an Acorn / Tú eres como una bellota with its whimsical descriptions of shapes and colors. But buried among the cute acorns are important messages of self-worth and diversity.

Each month during the school year, pre-k children receive their very own age-appropriate book selected by early childhood specialists. Children begin to build their personal libraries and parents receive activities on each book to engage their young child in learning at home. Teachers also incorporate curriculum developed around each book title into their classroom. Books and materials are provided for English- and Spanish-speaking families.

The Page Turner Reading Program, in partnership with City of Rockford Head Start, The Diocese of Rockford, Harlem School District #122, Kreative K, Montessori and Rockford Public Schools District #205, assists pre-school teachers in developing pre-literacy skills essential for kindergarten readiness. Since the majority of brain development occurs between birth and age five, quality early learning and care programs have a profound impact on lifelong success and support cognitive, social and emotional development.

United Way's Success By 6 initiative is supported through individual and corporate contributions to United Way's Community Impact Fund, including Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Exelon, Goodwill of Northern Illinois, Northwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council, Rockford United Labor, and Smith Charitable Foundation.

For more information on United Way's Success By 6® Page Turner Reading Program or its work in school readiness, contact Paul Nolley, community impact manager, by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 815-968-5400.

 


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

Strategic partnership doubles up expertise and recruitment for United Way I READ

I READ Partnership

Sheryl Thogerson with The Literacy Council addresses the crowd during a brief announcement at Ellis Elementary School

(Rockford, IL - 09/26/2016) – United Way of Rock River Valley announced a strategic collaboration with The Literacy Council that will enhance the effectiveness of United Way I READ, an early-grade reading program. The partnership combines The Literacy Council's expertise in adult literacy and program management with United Way's focus on community-level impact. The Literacy Council will manage program operations, which includes recruitment and data collection. United Way remains as the backbone and funding partner for I READ.

"Partnering with The Literacy Council doubles the expertise for United Way I READ by bringing in their knowledge of literacy services," says Linda Sandquist, vice president of United Way of Rock River Valley. "This strategic collaboration builds up the capacity, focus and effectiveness of The Literacy Council and allows United Way to continue investing our donors' dollars into effective programming."

Now entering its fifth year, United Way I READ serves nearly 350 Kindergarten thru third grade students in Harlem, Meridian, Oregon, and Rockford school districts. Over 250 volunteers are matched with students and work together with educators on increasing reading proficiency levels by the end of third grade. Beginning in fourth grade, students begin reading to learn. Without reading proficiency, a child's participation in the learning process is impaired.

"Adult literacy has always been our core mission, yet we believe that working with children and families is essential in building a strong literacy program. We look forward to the days ahead as we recruit volunteer readers for I READ, knowing that we are helping to change and strengthen the lives of children and adults in our community," says Sheryl Thogerson, executive director of The Literacy Council.

United Way will invest up to $48,000 annually for three years to The Literacy Council, which will manage operations and volunteer recruitment, and track data and outcomes. A volunteer-led United Way I READ advisory council comprised of local literacy educators and community leaders will continue to provide expertise and guidance of the early-grade reading program.

For more information on the program, contact United Way of Rock River Valley or The Literacy Council or visit www.wevolunteer.org/IREAD.

 


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

United Way of Rock River Valley earns second consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator

(Rockford, Ill. - 08/15/2016) – United Way of Rock River Valley's strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator. This is the second consecutive year that United Way has earned this top distinction. Only 21 percent of charities evaluated by Charity Navigator have at least two consecutive 4-star evaluations.

Since 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity's overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded their methodology with enhancements that further substantiates the financial health of four star charities.

"United Way of Rock River Valley's exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public," according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. "Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds United Way to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world's most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support United Way of Rock River Valley."

"Our donors trust us to invest their dollars back into our community wisely by building stronger families and stronger neighborhoods," said Paul Logli, President/CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. "Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and strong financial accountability."

United Way of Rock River Valley's rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org. More-detailed information about United Way of Rock River Valley's rating is available to Charity Navigator site visitors who become registered users, another free service.

 


About Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America's charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452

United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

Rockford-area native brings strategic and results-oriented approach to United Way's impact team

Paul Nolley

(Rockford, IL - 08/16/2016) – United Way of Rock River Valley is pleased to announce the hiring of Paul Nolley as Community Impact Manager. In his new role, Nolley joins United Way's impact team and will manage the community impact and investment process in both Winnebago and Ogle counties. Nolley assumed his responsibilities on Monday, August 15.

More than 425 businesses and local labor partners in Ogle and Winnebago counties align their annual philanthropic giving with United Way, pledging nearly $4.8 million during the last campaign year. In addition to managing the impact investment process, Nolley will provide leadership in United Way's program areas including United Way 2-1-1, Volunteer Center, I READ, and Success By 6.

"Paul brings a strategic and results-oriented approach to United Way in the areas of community impact and volunteer engagement. We are looking forward to his expertise and enthusiasm for our community as he grew up in this area and cares deeply about the success and vibrancy of the region," said Linda Sandquist, Vice President.

Nolley brings an array of experience in community development, program and advocacy work. More recently as the associate director of mission advancement for YMCA of Rock River Valley, Nolley collaborated with community leaders and donors to develop key program partnerships, and led outreach efforts to increase community and volunteer engagement. He was instrumental in growing the YMCA's unique youth leadership program, the Intern Challenge.

A native of the Rockford Region, Nolley is currently the treasurer for the local chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals, and served on the Illinois State Alliance of YMCA, Illinois People's Action, and McLean County Habitat for Humanity. He received a bachelor's degree in politics and government, and English studies from Illinois State University.

 


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

Loves Park Police hosting its first Strong Neighborhoods Days block party for area residents

Strong Neighborhoods Days

(Rockford, Ill. - 08/10/2016) – United Way of Rock River Valley is hosting a Strong Neighborhoods Days block party in collaboration with Loves Park Police. The community outreach event will be held at Maple Elementary School and provides an informal opportunity for neighbors to meet and engage with local police officers. Free food and activities is available for residents. The Loves Park Fire Department and Winnebago County Sheriff's Department will also lead equipment demonstrations. This is the first Strong Neighborhoods Days block party held in Loves Park.

The Rockford Police Department and United Way launched the first of these community outreach events last summer and continued the block parties throughout Rockford this summer. The block parties evolved from the success of the former "Cops on the Block" events that have taken place in previous summers. Loves Park city officials approached United Way about hosting a Strong Neighborhoods Days block party in the community after seeing its success in Rockford.

 


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.