“89% of students in poverty who did read on grade-level by the end of third grade graduated on time, statistically no different than students who never experienced poverty.” – Education Week 8.7.18

Locally driven innovative approaches to investing in children and youth need to be explored to eliminate the greatest barriers our ALICE families and families in poverty experience daily: transportation, housing, safety, cost of child care and food stability. These barriers directly impact the quality of education of their children and the family’s ability to achieve sustainable financial stability.

The United Way Suncoast “Reading Room” is designed to bring education equality through high-quality education programs & resources to where our most vulnerable children and families live, community housing neighborhoods*. United Way Suncoast will identify, establish community housing partnership and renovate existing underutilized space within the community.

United Way Suncoast will then manage the renovation of the room, engage community feedback, develop education programs for children and establish the platform of resources on site. Program services for children and families will then be developed by United Way Suncoast and executed and funded by community partner agencies in support of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Initiative (SCGLR).

*(Community housing neighborhood to include: identified public housing, affordable housing and privately-owned apartment buildings.)

Why UWS Reading Room

The Reading Room provides a powerful platform for services to be delivered where the families live eliminating the barriers to transportation, housing, safety, cost of child care and food stability. 95% of the children who participate in the UWS Reading Room do not attend summer camps or afterschool program due to financial and transportation barriers our ALICE families face daily.

What’s in a UWS Reading Room for high quality summer programming:

  • A safe, fun and engaging space
  • Age-appropriate books
  • Bean bags and group reading rugs
  • LEGO’s and manipulatives
  • Art & craft supplies
  • Full technology integration of IPADs with interactive streaming integration
  • Tables and chairs to create an interactive classroom setting
  • Lunch and snacks provided daily
  • Children ages 3 to 12-year-old who live on site
  • Daily parental engagement for families with parent/family volunteers
  • Summer program is FREE for children to participate ($2,400 savings per child)

2017 Summer Program Design & Outcomes

  • Community neighborhood housing partnership established between United Way Suncoast and La Mirada Garden Apartments
  • Site renovation of community room and neighborhood place based site established at La Mirada Garden Apartments
  • 11 community partners established to provide program resources, instruction, enrichment, in-kind donations and financial support.
  • Summer program for 30 children ages 3-12 years, 125 hours over 7 weeks
  • 586 books read over 7 weeks SCGLR Summer Book Challenge

2018 Summer Program Design & Outcomes

  • Expansion of technology IPADs and desktops at La Mirada Reading Room
  • Summer Program with 30 children, ages 3-12 years old, 170 hours over 8 weeks
  • STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Curriculum
  • 13 Community Partners established to provide program resources, instruction, enrichment, in-kind donations and financial support.
  • Academic measurements developed
  • Increase social capital and support of families and children


  • Continue summer programming at La Mirada Garden Apartments
  • Expand Enrichment opportunities in the Arts, Science and Technology
  • After school tutoring program
  • Authentic parent engagement program on site to support ALICE families
  • Identify & design second UWS Reading Room location at community neighborhood housing surrounding Title 1 school