United Way Quad Cities and Mayors Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday by Reading to Kids

From left to right: Image of CEO and President of United Way Quad Cities Rene Gellerman next to Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegel, Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati, Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms, Bettendorf Mayor Robert Gallagher, and East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman wearing Dr. Seuss hats.

Quad Cities mayors and United Way supporters united to read with the students of all three third-grade classes at Rock Island Academy on Wednesday, March 2, commemorating National Read Across America Day. The literacy awareness effort calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

As a part of United Way’s Read United QC’s impact effort, United Way hosted the reading day with about 60 students at the Rock Island Academy. The effort united mayors and city officials, including East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman; Bettendorf Mayor Robert Gallagher; Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati; Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegel; and Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms and others from the community to share Dr. Seuss books with students, promoting the joy and importance of reading and learning.

“We know reading is fundamental to becoming a lifelong learner,” said Rene Gellerman, president and CEO of United Way Quad Cities. “Through reading, we’re able to connect with children and help them unlock their potential for success in school and in life. Time spent reading to young students is an investment in their futures.”

Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati reading to a small group of Rock Island Academy students for National Reading Day

At the event, the mayors teamed up other volunteers to read Dr. Seuss books aloud to students and champion childhood literacy. Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement as it develops vocabulary, sparks imaginations and deepens children’s understanding of the world.

United Way is seeking community support in its Read United QC efforts to help close COVID-related gaps in youth literacy. On Wednesday, United Way announced it has raised $150,000 to its fundraising goal of $500,000 to help support out-of-school efforts that improve reading proficiency, and recruited over 300 volunteers to its goal of 500 Quad Citizens who will meet with local students for weekly one-on-one reading sessions.

In recent assessments available since the start of the pandemic, United Way’s local studies found just 30 percent of third-grade students are meeting grade-level proficiency performance.* This number contrasts with the 61 percent of local third-graders reading on grade level before the pandemic.

Students reading on grade level by third grade are five times more likely to graduate from high school.

“This one factor, the ability to read proficiently at the end of third grade, has long-term implications for individuals and for our community,” Gellerman said. “When volunteers and parents take the time to read aloud, talk and sing to children, they’re helping to develop their vocabulary, stimulating their imaginations, and expanding their understanding of the world.”

YOUR SUPPORT HELPS QC KIDS SUCCEED 

  • Parenting workshops, known as Born Learning Academies, that offer concrete strategies parents can incorporate into their daily lives to support their children’s language and reading development

  • Early education programs

  • Out-of-school literacy and tutoring efforts
  • Mentoring programs

Reading is essential to learning. Learning is essential to success later in life. Invest in our community’s most precious asset — our kids — through Read United QC.

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For more information, contact United Way Volunteer & Events Manager with any questions at mbeverlin@unitedwayqc.org or 563-344-0344.

* 70% of regional third-graders reporting for 2020-21, compared 93% in 2018-19.