Inspiring a Love for Reading

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Home – United Way of San Diego County

For over 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has remained committed to its mission of sparking breakthrough community action that elevates every child and family toward a brighter future. Today, in partnership with local organizations and community members, UWSD uses innovation, leveraged resources, and proven practices to resolve inequities and transform lives. The “United Way” envisions our community must unite to invest in the success of children from a very early age and provide holistic family support. UWSD’s Read Across America and Early Learners initiatives invest in children by focusing on early-grade literacy and improving educational outcomes. By supporting children and their families, UWSD ensures that San Diego County children emerge as successful, productive participants in our community.

Children begin with limitless potential and dream about becoming writers, video game developers, lawyers, veterinarians, doctors, and artists. However, educational barriers, specifically along racial and economic lines, often prevent these young minds from reaching their full potential. For that reason, education and literacy initiatives have remained a crucial focus for the organization. When kids are reading proficiently by the end of third grade, they are more likely to graduate from high school and be prepared for both college and careers.

UWSD’s educational initiatives equip students with the literacy, critical thinking, and communication skills they need to thrive, which often dictates their future educational pursuits, and in turn, economic success in life. Through the annual Read Across America Book Drive and Early Learners program, the San Diego-based organization supports childhood literacy development for students in communities experiencing great educational and economic inequities. UWSD’s annual Read Across America Book Drive aims to increase children’s access to age-appropriate, high-quality books at home to foster a nation of confident and engaged readers. From mid-February through the end of March, the organization will be collecting donations for the drive. There are numerous ways to get involved, such as by purchasing a book donation from one of UWSD’s bookstore partners, Warwick’s and Libélula Books & Co., or by making a monetary donation on the United Way of San Diego County website. Last year alone, over 2,000 books were donated to local families to support child literacy development! Every donation helps to spark the love of reading for children in our San Diego County community. The organization extends gratitude to Eli Lilly and Holman Enterprises for support of this year’s book drive.

In addition to providing high-quality books, access to reading mentors has proven its significance in fostering a love of books and increasing reading confidence. UWSD’s Early Learners Literacy Pilot Program with Traveling Stories provides one-on-one mentorship to help children receive tailored reading instruction, become more proficient readers, and learn stronger communication skills. With widening educational gaps in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the virtual, personalized approach has helped reach more students than ever before.

By focusing on educational initiatives, UWSD is addressing deep systematic disparities in our San Diego County community. By supporting United Way of San Diego County, you are ensuring children can make their dreams a reality. Get involved by donating to the Read Across America Book Drive and help empower children today!


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Esteban Villanueva