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What is Read United?

Read United is a year-round series of programs that aim to improve early language and childhood literacy. Originally known as “Read Across Liberty” this program served students within Liberty County and Fort Stewart between 2014 and 2020. However, due to the generosity of our sponsors and donors, we can now serve students throughout schools in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties.

Why is it important?

Reading proficiency and literacy is vital to the success of our community. Children with reading difficulties are more likely to experience health and behavioral problems, teen pregnancy, premature departures from school, trouble sustaining employment, and even poverty.  Through Read United, we seek to increase opportunities for achievement and brighter futures for all by ensuring that children reach important language milestones.

By the end of the third-grade children should be shifting from learning to read to reading to learn

61% of low-income families do not have any books in their homes in the United States

3rd grade students who are not proficient in reading by the end of the year are four times more likely to drop out of high school

By age 10, a child’s path to success is determined by their reading proficiency

How we all make a difference

With Upward Mobility in mind, United Way of the Coastal Empire intends to help build a ready & resilient workforce and a better future for our youngest citizens. One strategy to accomplish this is to advance early childhood literacy. Through the support of our donors, volunteers, and partnerships, the below programs are implemented year-round in our region.

Read United Day

Organized in each of our four counties, on these days United Way volunteers read to classrooms and give books to every student in our region in pre-k through 2nd grade. Read United Day has continued to expand over the years, and this past year, more than 950 volunteers read and gave free books to over 20,000 children in the region. Many lower-income students have no books in their homes, which we can do something about.

Learn more

Read United Buddies

Partnering with The Rotary Club of Savannah and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Read United Buddies is a pilot program where volunteers visit selected second-graders twice weekly to read with the students. Volunteers are asked to commit for the entire school year, spending 30 minutes twice a week at the assigned school to read with a second grader who needs support to read on grade level.

Learn more

Summer Reading

Bryan, Effingham, and Liberty counties provide summer reading programs in conjunction with their summer food programs, distributing books to children alongside their summer meals.


Share the Magic Reading Rallies:  In partnership with our regional school districts, United Way of the Coastal Empire welcomed UGA football great and Super Bowl Champion Malcolm Mitchell to help elevate the joy of reading among second-grade students with his Reading Rallies, a signature ‘Read with Malcolm’ literacy initiative. This hour-long in-school program combines a traditional author’s visit with a pep rally for a high-energy, innovative reading experience for an entire school. A magician adds unexpected excitement, and every student receives a copy of Malcolm’s book. Teachers receive a Teacher’s Guide to extend learning in the classroom.

Share the Magic Virtual Reading Challenges: Available in Pre-K to 8th-grade classrooms, Read with Malcolm’s Virtual Reading Challenges provide educators with a free platform to engage students. The reading challenges use a sports-styled approach to inspire kids to improve their reading skills. When paired with our In-School Programs, the challenges create robust year-round learning opportunities for students designed to reduce the academic achievement gap.

Deal Center’s Language as a Missing Link & Missed Opportunity: United Way, one of just two organizations in the state, received the Language as a Missing Link and Missed Opportunity Champion Award. This initiative entails a series of professional development and strategic planning sessions in Chatham County targeting practitioners, educators, nonprofits, and policymakers. The focus is on implementing a toolkit to improve language and literacy skills in children from birth to age 8 and devising a plan for widespread community implementation across diverse support systems.

United Way of the Coastal Empire is bettering our community—one book at a time!

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