United Way Regina has adopted a collective impact approach by joining the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Regina is the second Canadian member of the Campaign for Grade-level Reading Network, joining Calgary and hundreds of other communities in the initiative, aimed at improving reading proficiency and early school success for children from low-income families.

The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is a collaborative effort to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for post-secondary, a career, and active citizenship.

Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth-grade curriculum. Studies confirm a child not reading well by grade three is four times more likely to not graduate, six times more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system and ultimately 4 times more likely to live in poverty. Right now in Saskatchewan, 1 in 4 kids live in poverty.

The programs that are a part of United Way Regina’s Campaign for Grade Level Reading framework focus on our 12 greatest need community schools and address 4 key areas: School Readiness, Access to Books, Chronic Attendance, and Summer Learning Loss.

Understanding that healthy development also greatly impacts children’s ability to learn, we know that children who are on track in their physical, social and emotional, cognitive, and verbal development are more successful learners from their earliest years, and they are more likely to become proficient readers. Honing in on the health issues that are most closely correlated with early school success — could prove a powerful intervention.

We are seeking 4 vision partners to help us address this critical health-related barrier to learning. Our goal is to focus on all 12 of our priority schools, and if possible we would like all Kindergarten to Grade 3 students to have the opportunity to be seen. Each office would be assigned designated schools, and we would spread the visits out over the 10 months of the school year to provide an ample span of time to coordinate appointments, without weighing the offices down. United Way Regina has also developed an intervention budget to help ensure children receive the care they require, should families not have alternative means of support.

Ideally if we get through all K-3 students this next school year, it will mean we only need to focus on kindergarten students moving forward, and any new Grade 1-3 students, which would be much more manageable!

United Way Regina believes that education is key to poverty reduction. Is your office interested in helping us tackle this social issue, and provide low-income students equal opportunity to access quality education? Contact United Way Regina Today!

Trish Dupuis
Director of Development