Learning Pals

Learning Pals is a program for children (Kindergarten through 3rd grade) at Title 1 schools in Manatee County. The initiative focuses on helping children who are struggling with sight word recognition, reading fluency and comprehension, as well as STEM curriculum. Each child receives individualized attention based on their unique needs. Launched in 2018, Learning Pals is in eight Manatee Title 1 schools.

Why Learning Pals

Every child has the potential to achieve, but sometimes circumstances can hinder their progress and they fall behind. Without intervention, a child may feel like catching up is an impossible task. By pairing a child with a Learning Pal, each child receives individualized support to catch up or stay on track academically and gain self-confidence in their academic potential.

As a lead partner for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, United Way Suncoast understands the importanceĀ reading on grade-level has on a childā€™s development. Children who are reading at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school.

The Goal

To ensure every child receives the individualized help they need to achieve academic and personal success in their most formative years. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure more children graduate high school ready for college and career.

How Learning Pals Works

Each child in the program completes an assessment to determine their academic and literacy strengths and weaknesses. Based on that data, and input from their teacher(s), the child meets with a volunteer Learning Pal once a week for 25 weeks during the school year, to build skills where needed to meet or exceed grade level requirements.


To become a Learning Pal volunteer, choose a preferred day and time for one hour per week and we will match you with a classroom. You will receive instruction to confidently mentor students on key academics. Contact Kayla Shugart for more information at kshugart@uwsuncoast.org or at (941) 256-3073.


To donate, click here.

Did you know?

  • A $500 donation will purchase materials for one classroom
  • A $10,000 donation purchases materials for 20 classrooms