There is a literacy crisis in Winnebago County. And United Way believes and advocates literacy as a foundation for individual, family, and community success.


Currently, 1 in 3 children can read at a third-grade level or above. Third grade is a critical milestone in a child’s education, during which they are expected to transition from learning how to read to reading to learn. Research indicates that reading below expected third-grade levels is highly linked to future school and life challenges, as well as dropout, incarceration, and poverty rates.

Family reading to children

Get Involved

We developed a unified pledge to mobilize our community to act and help us improve our literacy rate. But we can’t get there without you!


United Way is excited to announce the details of its community-wide focus on literacy on September 7, which coincides with International Literacy Month. Until then, join our social campaign and take the literacy pledge. Say #IWill.


We would love for you to be involved by sharing our #IWill literacy pledge on your social media feed with your friends beginning August 15 and beyond. Please use the following hashtags in your post: #IWill, #815Day2023, #RockfordDay2023.

Child reading

What We're Doing

United Way is currently working with nearly 30 organizations and 13 local agencies to improve our literacy rate. We are utilizing the power of collective impact to remove barriers to literacy, thereby lifting our whole community! Each of our individual and collective actions is critical to the story of our movement. While one person’s actions may seem insignificant, together, #IWill becomes “we will.”

When equipped with an increased level of awareness and an understanding of the actions necessary to achieve our literacy goals, community impact can occur. This transformation becomes possible when individuals, families, communities, and organizations have access to both knowledge and tools.

Share the #IWill Pledge

Week 1:  Raise Awareness (August 15-22)

Sample posts:

  • <Your Name or Agency/Organization Name> is excited to support United Way’s plan to tackle Winnebago County’s low literacy beginning September 7! Show your support for this urgent priority. Take United Way’s #IWill pledge at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!
  • What would you have to believe to imagine all children in Winnebago County on a path to literacy in third grade by 2034? Believe with us. Take the #IWill pledge today at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!
  • <Your Agency/Organization Name>, United Way of Rock River Valley, and nearly 30 community partners across Winnebago County are coming together to take on third-grade reading as an urgent priority for all who care about children’s health and well-being. Please support our work by pledging #IWill today at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!

Week 2:  Pledge to Support Literacy in the 815 (August 22-29)

Sample posts:

  • In Winnebago County, only 1 in 3 students can read at a third-grade level or above. Learn more about why a low literacy rate affects our community. Pledge #IWill at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill.  
  • We learned that our efforts to change long-term outcomes must begin early—long before children enter kindergarten. Learn about #IWill and take the pledge online at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!
  • Join <Your Name or Agency/Organization Name> and United Way of Rock River Valley to help thousands of children, families, and our community to unlock their full potential! Learn about #IWill at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill and take the pledge online!

Week 3:  Pledge to Support Literacy in the 815 (August 29-September 5)

Sample posts:

  • You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Join United Way to increase our community’s literacy rate. Pledge #IWill today at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!
  • <Your Name or Agency/Organization Name>, United Way and its community partners are working hard to ensure our children are on track to achieving third-grade reading proficiency. We invite you to join this effort. Take the #IWill pledge at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!  
  • Children who can’t read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Pledge #IWill, here: www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill.

Week 4:  Pledge to Get Involved (September 5-12)

Sample posts:

  • <Your Name or Agency/Organization Name>, United Way of Rock River Valley, and its partners are rallying people, organizations, and our community to join us in increasing our literacy rate. Learn more about how to get involved and pledge #IWill at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill.  
  • Help our community increase its literacy rate. Take the #IWill pledge at www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill!
  • Celebrate United Way and <Your Agency/Organization Name> commitment to literacy by wearing the #IWill stickers, using the #IWill seal, and pledging to get Winnebago County reading! Go to www.unitedwayrrv.org/iwill to download these items.
  • The #IWill message unites our individual voices while highlighting the power of our collective action.
  • #IWill is about moving people from awareness to action. It inspires thinking about how you, as individuals, can take small steps that lead to real change.
  • Sharing our stories can have a ripple effect and can inspire others to action.
  • #IWill offers the community a tangible way to get involved in the effort to improve our literacy rate.
  • Awareness + Action = Community Change

The #IWill message is purposely broad, intended for personal application to each situation or story. The following are a series of statements that may be useful in determining how to frame your own organizational or personal message to improve our community's literacy rate.

  • #IWill share my story... [add personalized message here]
  • As an educator, I need advocates to know that #IWill... [add personalized message here]
  • #IWill want my children to know... [add personalized message here]
  • As a community leader, #IWill... [add personalized message here]

We are pleased to provide the following links to our social media campaign resources. These tools and resources were developed to support your efforts to spread the word in our community.