Literacy Project

Books on a yellow background

Did you know, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, our child literacy rate is only 32% in Winnebago County? Proficient readers create a strong workforce and a thriving community. That's why we're teaming up with more than 20 impactful agencies and organizations to solve our low literacy rate together and transform our community! Learn more below about why we chose to tackle the literacy rate in our community, and the incredible organizations helping us to do so.

What we're doing

In Winnebago County, only 32% of students can read at a third grade level or above. Third grade reading level is an indicator of future success; it is the point when children switch from "learning to read" to "reading to learn," creating the foundation for all future learning. United Way is currently working with 28 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! A reading community decreases poverty, increases a viable workforce, reduces crime, and brings strong mental health.

Our Bold Goal is for 75% of students in Winnebago County to be reading at grade level or above by 2034.

Why does a low literacy rate matter?

  • Health - The inability to read accounts for $282 billion per year nationally due to low use of preventative services and the misunderstanding of medical instructions. (American Journal of Public Health)
  • Employment - Higher paying jobs are unattainable to those who are illiterate. (2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Crime - 60% of people in prison cannot read; 85% of youth offenders struggle to read. (The Literacy Project Foundation)
  • Poverty - 43% of adults with the lowest literacy live in poverty. (National Institute of Literacy)
  • Generational literacy - 68% of 4th graders read below proficient level, 82% are from low-income homes. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Help us prepare every child to enter kindergarten ready to succeed and to promote their reading ability through 3rd grade and beyond!

  • A $20 donation provides six books to a child between the ages of 0-5
  • A $100 donation provides six books to five children between the ages of 0-5
  • A $200 donation provides six books to ten children between the ages of 0-5

Donate today by clicking here

Want more information on how to support literacy in our community? Email or call 815-968-5400.

We're teaming up with so many impactful organizations to solve our low literacy rate together and transform our community. The following list are just some of our collaborators, as this list is growing regularly:

•    Alignment Rockford
•    Blackhawk Day Care
•    Cherry Valley Library
•    Circles of Learning
•    City of Rockford
•    Discovery Center
•    Durand Charm
•    Easter Seals
•    Harlem School District #122
•    Head Start
•    Junior League
•    Literacy Council
•    Milestone
•    Patriots Gateway
•    Rockford Boys & Girls Club
•    Rockford Public Library
•    Rockford Public Schools #205
•    Rockford Rotary
•    Severson Dells
•    St. Rita Catholic School
•    SwedishAmerican Hospital/UW Health
•    Trinity Day Care
•    United Way of Rock River Valley
•    Winnebago County Health Department
•    Winnebago Schools
•    YMCA of Rock River Valley
•    YWCA of Northwestern Illinois
•    Youth Services Network