Help Me Read


Did you know?  

Every public dollar invested in early child care and education saves tax payers up to $13 dollars in future costs.

*The literacy rates among fourth grade students in America are sobering. Sixty-six percent of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient” on the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test, meaning that they are not reading at grade level. Even more alarming is the fact that among students from low-income backgrounds, 80 percent score below grade level in reading.

These are national statistics, though here in the Ozarks the numbers are just as startling. Of all the children who started kindergarten this year, 1 in 4 were not ready to learn. At the end of third grade, 1 in 5, that’s half of our students, can’t read at grade level.  We also know 1 in 5 families in the Ozarks have an annual household income of just $15,000 and the average cost of quality childcare for a family with an infant and a toddler is $14,800 each year. While our neighbors work to support their families, they simply can’t make ends meet. Many times, they must choose working more hours over reading a book to their child.

When you give to United Way of the Ozarks you do more than just help ensure people have help during a moment of crisis. You are investing in the future of your community. It is through the generosity of donors and volunteers, like you, that we are making a positive impact in the lives of our neighbors. 

United Way of the Ozarks has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. This year, you can help local children learn a love for reading and help the community get in front of poverty through a focused effort on early education.

Occurring this year on December 1, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

United Way of the Ozarks currently provides support for local children through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that helps parents read to their children. There are many reasons parents do not read to their child, but we can eliminate one of them. Each month, a new, carefully selected book is mailed in the child’s name directly to their home. Every child registered for the program, age birth to five (5) will have books of their very own, at no cost to them, with this program. One mother shared, “We have only received one book so far, But both Emmitt and Kael were so excited to receive their very own book. I had to sit down and read it right away. I am so thankful for your program. We are raising 3 kids on one small income. Your help is so appreciated.”

Currently, the program serves children living in zip codes: 65802,65803,65806,65807. With the current level of funding the program serves 1775 children. “Our goal is not only to continue the current level of support, but to increase the funding amount in order to provide books for up to 2000 kids in 2016,” said Cindy Howell, VP of Resource Development at United Way of the Ozarks.

Each $25 gift provides one child a book each month for an entire year. To make your #GivingTuesday donation you can text “helpmeread” to 41444 or visit us online at

Thank you for being part of the solution as we strive to get upstream from poverty in the Ozarks.  When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. That is what it means to live united.

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