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United Way launches Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge in York County

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March 13, 2019
As part of its focus on literacy, United Way of York Countylaunched in February a new program called the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge, a pre-literacy program that will encourage York County families to read to their 1- and 2-year-old children.
United Way delivered its first crates of age-appropriate books to participating early learning center classrooms at Crispus Attucks, YMCA Hanover, YWCA Hanover and YWCA York. Children will take home a new book each night, and parents will track the number of books read, with the goal of reading 100 books during the school year. The piloted group at these four early learning centers is expected to serve 100 children across 12 classrooms.
By focusing specifically on 1- and 2-year-old children, the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge will complement the Early Literacy 100 Book Challenge, which serves children ages 3, 4 and 5 in participating classrooms. The program also joins United Way’s other current #yorkreads initiatives, including Reach Out and Read, which reaches children 6 months to 5 years old at their pediatrician appointments; and public-facing Reading Ready Corners and Little Free Libraries.
“The benefits and importance of reading to young children cannot be overstated, but low-income families often have very few age-appropriate books in the home,” said Elizabeth Richard, Director of Education Initiatives at United Way of York County. “Research shows that reading books with a child can boost their vocabulary and improve their language development. The Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge is another great way to get books into the hands of children in our community and to encourage reading at home.”
This project was funded by a grant from the Women’s Giving Circle of York County Community Foundation.
Families in participating classrooms will also receive information about York County Libraries’ new initiative, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, which offers library cards and provides information on their closest library and incentives for reaching goals along the way; as well as information on the libraries’ Summer Reading Program, which operates during the timeframe that the Early Literacy Read to Me Challenge is not active.
Individuals interested in supporting the #yorkreads programs through book donations can drop off new or used children's books at United Way of York County’s office, 800 E. King Street, York, PA, 17403, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  Or, browse the United Way wish list on Amazon at http://bit.ly/yorkreads_WishList, where you can purchase books and send them directly.

About United Way of York County
For over 97 years, United Way of York County has worked in the York County community to improve people’s lives. It began as The York Welfare Federation, an organization that raised funds on behalf of 17 member agencies.  Today, as the United Way of York County, the mission of raising community funds remains the same, but the strategies have broadened in order to meet the growing and changing needs of people living in York County.
United Way has adapted over the years and now collaborates with other public and private organizations to engage the community in addressing the complex issues facing York County. By developing initiatives that get at the root causes of these issues, United Way and its partners find solutions and fund programs that improve the lives of one in three people in York County.  Through gifts to the Community Fund, United Way is able to invest those dollars into 74 programs supported by 37 Partner Agencies.  These programs address human services needs across three Focus Areas: Education, Health, and Financial Stability.  This enables United Way to tackle the immediate and continuing needs of York County families and individuals and to create real, lasting change that matters to you and the community.

Nicole Shaffer 
Director of Development & Communications
United Way of York County
Direct: (717) 771-3811   Cell: (717) 424-4113