You’re likely to enjoy it. They’re likely to graduate.

Children who are read to are more likely to become good readers. And children who read at grade level by the fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school.

Become a ReadingPal.

ReadingPals is a United Way program where volunteers provide positive reinforcement and personal attention to a child (Preschool through 3rd grade) who would benefit from a little extra reading support. We aim to not only improve children’s reading skills, but also impart a love of reading.

In Manatee

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.

Volunteer Experience

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 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 or 813.274.0998.