Early Grade Reading

Youth need support during their early-grade years to ensure success in high school and beyond. Through this early-grade reading program, United Way I READ matches volunteer reading mentors with kindergarten students and prepares students to read proficiently by 4th grade. Volunteers tutor up to three students each week during the school day and are encouraged to remain with their students through 3rd grade.


Program Reach:

  • volunteer reading mentors are matched with the lowest reading students as indicated by kindergarten baseline data
  • reading mentors may tutor up to three students weekly for 20 minutes each during the school day in the classroom or other designated areas within the school
  • each year new volunteers are recruited, trained, and matched with incoming kindergarten students


Program Locations

Harlem School District #122: Donald C. Parker Early Education Center, Loves Park, Machesney, Maple, Marquette, Olson Park, Rock Cut, Windsor

Oregon Community Unit District #220: Oregon

Rockford Public Schools District #205: Beyer, Ellis, Hillman, King, Kishwaukee, Lathrop, Lewis Lemon, West View, Whitehead



Community Sponsors: BMO Harris Bank, Winnebago County

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Linda Sandquist, Vice President, by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Outcomes 2013-2014

400 Kindergarten thru Second Grade students were matched with an I READ mentor

Kindergarten I READ Students (Letter Identification)

  • Pre-Test Proficiency: 30%
  • Post-Test Proficiency: 100%

Results: Harlem School District #122


First Grade I READ Students (Letter Sounds)

  • Pre-Test Proficiency: 12%
  • Post-Test Proficiency: 97%

Results: Harlem School District #122 


Teacher Survey (Mentor Relationship)

  • 95% of teachers surveyed agreed that the consistent mentoring relationship had a positive impact on a student's academic and emotional development
  • Post-Test Proficiency: 100%

Results: Harlem School District #122 and Rockford Public Schools District #205