Third graders get schooled with help from United Way

by United Way | December 12, 2018

As a third grader learning to read, Jesus is doing well. But many kids in our community aren’t. In fact, 53 percent of North Texas third graders are reading below grade level.

“If children aren’t reading at grade level by grade three, it becomes problematic,” says Christina Hanger, CEO of Dallas After-school.

Research shows these kids are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

“It’s just horrifying that by grade three, we’re practically relegating these kids to low wage jobs for the rest of their lives,” Hanger said.

And summer is a particular troubling time of year. On average, low-income kids lose two months of reading skills over the summer when they’re not in school.

Tackle Summer Slide was created to reverse this trend.

In this collaborative effort of educational partners brought together by United Way, students receive one-on-one coaching from reading specialists and access to on-line curriculum that keeps them engaged. And their success instills a lifelong love of learning.

“Last summer we had 500 kids. 72 percent of them had no summer learning loss,” Hanger said. “And 53 percent of them gained two months of literacy skills, which was just totally amazing.”

The program was so successful that this summer’s enrollment increased to 1,500 kids.

Jesus is just one of tens of thousands of local students who can tell a similar story. Like him, kids all across North Texas are reaching their full potential thanks to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas programs. Programs that focus on education, income and health — the building blocks of a thriving community.

 “This is what United Way can do in our community that so few people can,” said Hanger. “By bringing all these things together, we can really have these kinds of results.”

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