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Editor’s note: As part of the News + Record’s commitment to the community, we’re partnering with the United Way of Chatham County to help provide insight into the work of the agencies the program helps fund with a series of local agency profiles; information is provided by the agencies in conjunction with the United Way. The United Way relies on donations from individuals and businesses to meet the needs of its member agencies. Please consider a generous gift.
Chatham County Partnership for Children
Focus Area: Nurturing Youth & Families
Name of United Way Supported Program(s): Raising a Reader
How will the Partnership for Children use United Way donor dollars?: United Way funding will be used to support the implementation of an evidence-based early literacy book rotation program in partnership with early childhood education centers and families across Chatham County. The program will reach more than 350 children and will engage each child’s entire family in literacy strategies that are proven to build a lifelong love of reading.
Why is this program essential to Chatham County?: Over half our children enter kindergarten without the basic literacy awareness they need to succeed in school. Our long term goal, in collaboration with Chatham County Schools, is to achieve grade level reading by 3rd grade for 100 percent of our students. This goal is essential for the long term success of our students and our society. Grade Level Reading is a critical economic influencer for our community.
How does the program make a difference in the community?: Families all over the county are developing literacy routines early in their children’s lives, including increased use of the public library and increased daily book sharing.
Please share a story about a Chatham resident this program helped and the impact it made: Raising a Reader was particularly successful in an Early Head Start classroom in Siler City this year. The classroom consisted of eight low-income toddlers, some of whom were limited English speaking, and two teachers. At the beginning of the year, the teachers made home visits to each family. During these visits, they explained how Raising a Reader works, highlighted the importance of sharing books with children at home, and provided early literacy ideas to the parents. Additionally, both teachers attended Raising a Reader early literacy trainings throughout the year and implemented the new strategies they learned to improve the literacy environment in the classroom. They were consistent in sending the Raising A Reader book bags home with the children, and they read to the children daily in the classroom. In a just a few short months, the teachers reported that children were able to recognize some of their favorite Raising a Reader books by the covers and enjoyed the RAR books being read at school. During subsequent home visits, parents shared that they enjoyed reading with their children and that many had established a reading routine at home for the first time.