MENTOR TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Volunteering just one hour of your time a week to read to a child makes a lifelong impact — in their life and yours.
ReadingPals offers volunteers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with young children in Florida, while helping them improve their social-emotional development and early literacy skills. ReadingPals is managed by The Children’s Movement of Florida and administered through 17 United Ways—with the help of numerous community partners across the state.
More About Statewide ReadingPals
What Is ReadingPals?
ReadingPals is a volunteer-based early literacy initiative that provides mentors for students from Pre-K through 3rd grade who may need extra help, utilizing one-on-one or small group settings.
Why Is ReadingPals Important?
45% of children in Florida are not ready for Kindergarten1 and 43% of Florida students cannot read at a minimally proficient level by the end of third grade.2 Additionally, studies show that children with mentors are more confident and have fewer behavioral problems.3 Early intervention and individualized attention gives students the best likelihood of success.
What Do We Hope To Achieve?
To build genuine, impactful relationships between students and our volunteer mentors.
To improve students’ understanding of the fundamental building blocks of early literacy.
To help students build a strong social-emotional foundation through self-awareness, self-management,
social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
Where Is ReadingPals Available?
ReadingPals program is available in 27 counties via 17 local United Ways and other community partners, with opportunities in more than 200 schools and childcare centers around the state. We provide over 3,000 students every year with a mentor. This is all made possible thanks to Publix Charities and the Barnett family’s passion for promoting literacy and early childhood development in Florida.
What Is The Commitment?
ReadingPals volunteers are asked to commit an hour per week with their student(s) for 25+ weeks during the school year (some programs may offer a 30-minute per week or half-year option). Each school year, more than 2,300 volunteers statewide make this commitment, and at least 40% return for another year!
How Can I Get Started?
Once signed up through the United Way or The Children’s Movement of Florida, volunteers are connected with a regional coordinator at United Way (or other partner agency) who will provide details about participating schools in your area, volunteer time-slots, background screening, training and curriculum.
What Else Can I Do?
ReadingPals volunteers see the importance of early education firsthand,and gain exposure to the challenges many teachers and students face in the classroom. We hope the ReadingPals experience will inspire our volunteers to become advocates alongside The Children’s Movement, promoting greater investment in Florida’s youngest children. Learn more at www.childrensmovementflorida.org
1. Florida Office of Early Learning (2018)
2. Florida Department of Education (2018)
3. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (2013)
United Way Suncoast staff, in partnership with early learning educators, trains and deploys volunteer Reading Pals who dedicate their time to read with 1-2 students weekly for 30 weeks. This year ReadingPals is in 14 Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms at eight Title 1 Schools.
- In Kindergarten classrooms, volunteers read a new book each week with their Pal that they then take home to build their home library. This helps create positive memories associated with Reading. They also use sight word activities and a tablet program called “Footsteps2Brilliance” to access additional books and literacy components.
- In VPK classrooms, volunteers utilize pre-made kits that contain two books and corresponding literacy games targeting specific VPK needs. In some classrooms, volunteers also read a new book and utilize Footsteps as well.
Volunteers emphasize a love for reading while helping children develop early learning skillsets that will allow them to learn to read in the classroom. Reading Pals is a guided program that works closely with the classroom teacher to allow for individualization based on children’s specific needs. In addition to developing strong mentorship and a love for reading, volunteers focus on letter and sight word recognition as well as developing social and emotional intelligence. UWS Manatee Reading Pals also works closely with the School District to reach parents and provide resources for home learning.
For more information or to sign up as a ReadingPal in Manatee, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941.748.1313 .
Also create a volunteer profile on our Volunteer portal.
In Hillsborough and Pinellas
ReadingPals commit to meet regularly, one-on-one, for one hour a week with a child. As part of your time, ReadingPals volunteers read with students, listen to them read and play literacy games. Volunteer positions require a background screening and an orientation to prepare you to work with students. Orientations are held at our Tampa office every 2nd Thursday of the month from 1- 3 pm. We also host orientations at various sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as well as a virtual orientation. Check our events calendar to find the next session, or contact us to view the virtual version. There are 6 after school sites to choose from across Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For more information and to submit interest in becoming a ReadingPal, contact Nicole Brown at email@example.com or 813.274.0998.