Second and third graders at three elementary schools in the Shocker neighborhood area received new reading materials last week. Delivered by Women United® volunteers, the books will be sent home with children to help combat summer learning loss. The parental reading guides included with the books encourage working with children to practice and improve their skills even after the school year ends.

Women United 2021 Chair, Justine Milmine of INTRUST Bank, said, “Students who aren’t reading at grade level are falling behind. In fact, they’re four times more likely to drop out of school. Our volunteers are passionate about literacy initiatives and many of them have been part of our partnership with area schools that provides reading coaches. With all the learning disruptions created by the pandemic, we wanted to package and provide book sets for these children so that they stay on track in school and continue improving their reading skills. We’ve missed being part of their success and we are really hoping to get back to our in-person coaching when the next school year starts this fall.”

Pete Najera, United Way of the Plains CEO and President, said, “We know that reading is the cornerstone of all learning and it’s critical for children in that age group to practice reading every day. We fight for every child to reach their potential and growing strong readers is an investment in the future of these children, their families and our community.”

Financial donations made earlier this year during a five-day Coaching for Literacy campaign helped fund the summer reading initiative. United Way of the Plains worked with Wichita Public Schools and Wichita State University to elevate awareness about illiteracy and raise money to buy books for children. Nine area high school boys and girls basketball teams joined the Wichita State University Men’s Basketball team in promoting the hashtag ‘Fight4Literacy’ and requesting donations to purchase books. International Paper provided a matching grant through the national nonprofit, Coaching for Literacy. More than $30,000 was raised, including nearly $7,000 donated by local members of Women United.

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