Fifty local children have headed back to school this summer with more confidence in their reading skills, thanks to United Way California Capital Region’s Summer STARS program that took place at seven CHOC affordable housing sites throughout Sacramento and Yolo counties. Through the program, AmeriCorps Summer Vista volunteers worked with participants on maintaining and improving reading levels using United Way’s STARS literacy program to avoid the summer learning gap known as “summer slide.”
“Summer slide is a very real issue that can cause children, especially those from low-income households, to fall behind multiple years in grade-level reading if they do not have support while school is out of session,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We know that education is a ladder out of poverty, so we are grateful to our partners that helped us reach these 50 kids so they could keep learning during the summer and continue to excel in school.”
Through United Way’s Summer STARS, an acronym for Students and Tutors Achieving Reading Success, AmeriCorps Summer Vista volunteers used the platform Book Nook to work through the literacy curriculum with participants and build their vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills through a variety of games, books and lessons provided in the online portal. The Sacramento Literacy Foundation provided funding for the program at the CHOC sites located in the Sacramento Promise Zone. Through a longtime partnership between CHOC and the Dairy Council, Summer STARS participants also received healthy lunches and nutrition education to combat summer hunger when free school lunch programs are not in operation.
United Way’s STARS program primarily runs during the school year and uses the same curriculum and platform, working with school districts in Sacramento and Yolo counties. The program needs volunteers for the 2022-2023 school year, including virtual tutors in Sacramento County and in-person tutors at Woodland schools. No prior tutoring knowledge is needed, as United Way provides training for its volunteers, all of whom commit to at least one hour each week split into two 30-minute sessions for three months. Volunteers are especially needed during the hours of 3-5pm. For more information or to sign up as a volunteer: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/STARS.
The local United Way has been helping children improve literacy for more than five years, including through its AARP Experience Corps program that paired retirees with children in schools before the pandemic hit.
United Way California Capital Region has been working to fight poverty for nearly 100 years by creating stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities, now serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way has found one place in each community to reach the most families in need: School is square one for ending family poverty. United Way uses its Square One approach to end poverty for local families by helping children excel in school, investing in families, and strengthening schools with resources to address increased poverty and deep roots of racial inequality. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.