Strategic partnership doubles up expertise and recruitment for United Way I READ

I READ Partnership

Sheryl Thogerson with The Literacy Council addresses the crowd during a brief announcement at Ellis Elementary School

(Rockford, IL - 09/26/2016) – United Way of Rock River Valley announced a strategic collaboration with The Literacy Council that will enhance the effectiveness of United Way I READ, an early-grade reading program. The partnership combines The Literacy Council's expertise in adult literacy and program management with United Way's focus on community-level impact. The Literacy Council will manage program operations, which includes recruitment and data collection. United Way remains as the backbone and funding partner for I READ.

"Partnering with The Literacy Council doubles the expertise for United Way I READ by bringing in their knowledge of literacy services," says Linda Sandquist, vice president of United Way of Rock River Valley. "This strategic collaboration builds up the capacity, focus and effectiveness of The Literacy Council and allows United Way to continue investing our donors' dollars into effective programming."

Now entering its fifth year, United Way I READ serves nearly 350 Kindergarten thru third grade students in Harlem, Meridian, Oregon, and Rockford school districts. Over 250 volunteers are matched with students and work together with educators on increasing reading proficiency levels by the end of third grade. Beginning in fourth grade, students begin reading to learn. Without reading proficiency, a child's participation in the learning process is impaired.

"Adult literacy has always been our core mission, yet we believe that working with children and families is essential in building a strong literacy program. We look forward to the days ahead as we recruit volunteer readers for I READ, knowing that we are helping to change and strengthen the lives of children and adults in our community," says Sheryl Thogerson, executive director of The Literacy Council.

United Way will invest up to $48,000 annually for three years to The Literacy Council, which will manage operations and volunteer recruitment, and track data and outcomes. A volunteer-led United Way I READ advisory council comprised of local literacy educators and community leaders will continue to provide expertise and guidance of the early-grade reading program.

For more information on the program, contact United Way of Rock River Valley or The Literacy Council or visit


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley fights for the health, education and financial stability for every person in every neighborhood. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.